back to article Privacy groups demand one commissioner to rule them all

The UK needs a single privacy commissioner, and not the tangle of officials it is creating to police the area, an alliance of pressure groups claimed yesterday. Terri Dowty, Director of Action on Rights for Children (ARCH), warned of the uncoordinated and ineffective proliferation of commissioners now operating in this area. …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I want to be ...

    .... Commissioner of Social Netowrking sites.

    and spend my days being paid to surf the net to see how people violate their own privacy.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    a single Commissioner??

    are they really asking for a single Privacy Commissioner ? With powers over every form of personal information? That's Orwellian.

    At least with an eco-system of Commissioner there's a sporting chance (on a good day) of getting individuals that are experts in their field, provide oversight of each other and gives some level of separation of concerns in the subject.

    A unified commissar would do none of those and would be a political figurehead at best.

    1. MinionZero
      Big Brother

      It is Orwellian

      Its also a power grab. The person who gets to lead this one Commission, then wipes out 4 other competitors and they also gets to expand their sphere of influence and so increase their power. Its like office politics on a bigger scale, with department heads all vying to side line the other department heads. These office politics type people are more interested in playing their own power games, than they are in actually helping the organisation they work for.

      It much better to have multiple overseers, as they then police each other and help to reduce the amount of influence from government minsters seeking to subvert one privacy Commissioner leader, to turn a blind eye to anything the government wants to do.

  3. Whitter
    Thumb Down

    UK = England / Wales again?

    There are even more than that.

    But then again, the laws are diffrrent.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Rationalisation? Unpossible! sayeth the goverment

    Then clean up your act and make it possible, says us. Who's the government here for then, hm?

    If it's too hard I'll take a minister of privacy post to do it, with mandybill-type powers to reform anything touching on privacy, regardless of whose remit whichever bill says it is. I promise no technocrat will like it, but I also promise to make sure reasonable and everyday administration can continue, even if privacy considerations require that to be in a different fashion than before.

    1. thecakeis(not)alie

      Who's the government here for

      Big Business.


    Information Commissioner

    If the UK Information Commission is a model, then employing two more corrupt, incompetent, under resourced, untrained regulators isn't going to change a single thing.

    The Information Commissioners don't protect the public from criminals who abuse the privacy of information.

    They protect the criminals from the justified compaints of the public by obstructing and delaying redress...

    What they call the "Data Protection Regulatory Action Policy ".

  6. Harry

    No amount of privacy commissioners ...

    ... will bring about proper privacy, unless and until one or more of those actually understands that privacy means *stopping* businesses from abusing personal information, not writing lots of rules whose general effect is only to create loopholes which *enable* businesses to do whatever they like.

  7. Guy Herbert
    Black Helicopters

    re: a single Commissioner??

    AC writes: "At least with an eco-system of Commissioner there's a sporting chance (on a good day) of getting individuals that are experts in their field, provide oversight of each other and gives some level of separation of concerns in the subject."

    But that is not in fact how the various commissioners operate. Far from looking at each other's work, each is confined to a very narrow brief (precisely as HMG points out), usually to oversight of process rather than substance, and their tendency is to view it as narrowly as possible. This is a feature, not a bug from Whitehall's point of view because it creates the impression of a horde of independent officials protecting the interests of the public without in the least impeding the operation of public bodies. There are lots of gaps.

    The single commission imagined by privacy advocates would not have 'powers over personal information', but over bodies public and private handling personal information. It would be charged with protecting privacy in the application of the various powers or rights that exist over personal information, and report to parliament, not a ministry. All parties were happy to establish a very powerful and independent unified Equality & Human Rights Commission in the last parliament; so why the immediate squirming at the suggestion of a Privacy Commission?

  8. Britt Johnston

    Payment by results

    Information is such a big area, it needs all the commissioners it can get: How about?

    - an SMS commissioner, who looks into abuses of less than 140 characters

    - the electrical information commissioner, who looks at transmission over power lines

    - one for official secrets abuse, who looks into espionage, but does not publish any results

    - the freedom of info man, to help public officials redefine their information to be either outside public domains, or valuable and therefore covered under the freedom to charge laws.

    But wait! We seem to have people responsible for all these problems - it's just the results that are missing.

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