March 7, 2007

UK Information Commissioner to Address Largest International Gathering of Privacy Pros

York, Maine -- March 7, 2007 -- Richard Thomas, UK Information Commissioner, has been making waves across the pond for several months with a series of high-profile statements on diverse privacy issues. The International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) is proud to announce that Thomas will be among an esteemed group of keynote speakers at the IAPP Privacy Summit 07,March 7-9, at the Renaissance Washington DC Hotel.

"I am looking forward to addressing leaders from the privacy community in Washington on the need to 'do global privacy better,' " Thomas said. "As privacy issues continue to rise fast up the agenda — politically and commercially — in the United States and worldwide, now is the time to consider how we can build on common ground to achieve a much more consistent approach to privacy protection on a worldwide basis." "The IAPP is fortunate to offer our Summit attendees the chance to hear directly from this influential privacy regulator," said Kirk M. Herath, CIPP/G, AVP,  Associate General Counsel and Chief Privacy Officer, Nationwide Insurance Companies. "The IAPP is committed to offering attendees the opportunity to learn more about international privacy issues — in this case, directly from the UK's top privacy regulator."

Last fall, Thomas made headlines with the release of his report, "A Surveillance Society," which assessed surveillance in 2006 and made some predictions about the extent to which individuals' movements will be tracked and recorded in 10 years. The report  was released during the 28th International Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners' Conference in London on Nov. 1.

This report will launch the discussion in an IAPP Privacy Summit 07 panel, "2010: A Privacy Odyssey," scheduled for 1:30 p.m., Friday, March 9. Fred Cate, Distinguished Professor and Director, Indiana University and Malcolm Crompton, Managing Director, Information Integrity Solutions Pty Ltd., will join Thomas in a discussion about the instability of privacy law today.

At the end of the 28th International Data Protection Conference, a communique emerged that new approaches and new or revised laws are required to address this instability in global privacy approaches, which will be addressed during this advanced session panel.

Thomas also has recently provided his views to the public on the changes the National Health Service (NHS) will make to the way it stores and shares electronic patient health records in England. Thomas said he will carefully monitor the implementation and operation of the new NHS Care Records Service "to ensure patients are provided with adequate information and choices and that their health data is maintained in a safe and secure way." Thomas said he will take particular care to work with the NHS on issues "relating to the accuracy of the information to be uploaded, the way people are informed about the changes and the systems in place to allow people to access their own information."

*Thomas recently called for a two-year jail term to deter those convicted of trading unlawfully in personal information. Last month the British government backed his proposals and announced its intention to introduce legislation increasing penalties for deliberate and willful misuse of personal data.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is the UK's independent public body set up to promote access to official information and protect personal information.  It does this by promoting good practice, ruling on eligible complaints, providing information to individuals and organizations, and taking appropriate action when the law is broken.

The ICO enforces the Data Protection Act, the Freedom of Information Act, the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and the Environmental Information Regulations. It also maintains the public register of data controllers under the Data Protection Act.

Based in Wilmslow, Cheshire, the ICO also has regional offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.  Thomas, the former Director of Public Policy at Clifford Chance — the world's largest law firm — was appointed to the role of Information Commissioner by HM Queen in December 2002.