A year after the Telegraph reported that Information Commissioner Graham would pledge a fierce approach to the stonewalling approach of public officials, and enforce the Data Protection Act, he has surely held his word. Two fines have been delivered, the first to the Hertfordshire County Council, for approximately $200,000 (£100 000,), regarding a facsimile of sensitive information, in fact, child sex abuse litigation, to the incorrect recipients – not only once, but twice! Christopher Graham took the right course of action to slam those who were so sloppy.
The second fine was for around $120,000 (£60 000) was dealt to an employment services company regarding the loss of a laptop (unencrypted disk, of course), which stored a 24,000 person database of those seeking legal advice in Hull and Leicester. "These first monetary penalties send a strong message to all organisations handling personal information. Get it wrong and you do substantial harm to individuals and the reputation of your business. You could also be fined up to half a million pounds", stated the Commissioner.
I blogged about last years’ Information Commissioner Office crackdown on T-Mobile, but companies are not the only target of enforcement, so are public officials, here are some of his lucid quotes: "Freedom of Information has been 'live' for five years and some public authorities are better at addressing openness than others. But some are dragging their feet and my job is to get the slowcoaches to speed up and to realise my office will be on to them if they don't get a move on."
"The Information Commissioner has a key role at the moment. I have responsibility for encouraging the highest standards of data protection and of transparency by public bodies. I am in the business of information rights. It's a role that is only going to get more and more important," Graham stated last year to the Telegraph.
Regarding the long term goals of the ICO: "I want to run an effective operation. I don't want to be remembered for fine speeches and interesting essays. I want to have got things done. I want to ensure that people's rights under the Data Protection Act and Freedom of Information Act work. I want to ensure that problems are resolved in a timely way because justice delayed is justice denied.”
I have posted this information to a Facebook Page critical of Canadian Prime Minster Stephen Harper, as well as reminded Liberal Party of Canada Member of Parliament Justin Trudeau that there should to be a Canadian equivalent, and not just Auditor General Fraser performing a dual role of scorn for abuse by the Government itself.
Bravo once again to Christopher Graham for taking head on those who wish to thrive in anti-democratic stagecoaching.
The next step is for the amendment to the Freedom of Information Act to pass through Parliament - this will allow him to be able to over-rule the Justice Secretary Jack Straw who, by default, conceals the minutes of Cabinet meetings, whereas it should be the opposite.