First speech of new Information Commissioner

October 3rd, 2016

For those of you who missed Elizabeth Denham’s first speech as the UK Information Commissioner, you can read it here. Ms Denham also spoke on Friday’s Radio 4 PM programme, which you can listen to here.

One of the core themes emerging from Ms Denham’s speech was the importance of public trust when it comes to the management of personal data. The delivery of Ms Denham’s speech was particularly timely in view of the fact that it coincided with the release of a survey by the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey which showed that, of the 2,500 people surveyed, 57% did not trust companies to handle their data responsibly – see here. As Ms Denham made clear in her speech, key to the achievement of public trust is the adoption of data management systems which are not only fair but are also meaningfully transparent. The principle of transparency is of course itself knitted into the fabric of data protection legislation, particularly through the imposition of obligations concerning privacy notices. However, as the CIM survey suggests, many companies are still not doing enough to bring the public along with them when it comes to their data processing operations.

As for the important issue of data protection in the post-Brexit world, Ms Denham has made clear that she does not see Brexit as being fatal to the application of GDPR principles within the UK. Quite the contrary, her view, as expressed on PM, was: ‘there is some flexibility but bottom line I don’t think that Brexit should mean Brexit when it comes to standards of data protection’.

The relationship between the GDPR and the move towards Brexit is of course going to be a central theme of 11KBW’s conference on the GDPR, which is due to take place on 13 October 2016. For more details of the conference click here.

Anya Proops QC

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