Media

March 28, 2008

The IAPP Recognizes UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas with 2008 Privacy Leadership Award

York, Maine -- March 28, 2008 — UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas today received the International Association of Privacy Professionals' 2008 Privacy Leadership Award for his ongoing commitment to raising the public profile of privacy and data protection issues.

Thomas accepted the award at the IAPP's Privacy Summit in Washington, D.C., where more than 1,000 global privacy professionals have convened for three days of education, networking and certification. The IAPP is the world's largest association for the privacy profession.

 "Commissioner Thomas has demonstrated an enduring commitment to strengthening privacy protections during his tenure," said Sandra R. Hughes, Global Ethics, Compliance and Privacy Executive, The Procter and Gamble Company. "Under his leadership, the ICO has focused on raising public awareness of important privacy issues and strengthening the UK's approach to preventing and addressing misuse of sensitive data and other harmful practices. The Commissioner has diligently worked to further the protection of citizens' rights through public debate, education, regulatory action and enforcement."

 Since Thomas was appointed Commissioner in 2002, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has adopted a new approach to its functions, structure and working methods with the overall aim of "strengthening public confidence in data protection by taking a practical, down to earth approach — simplifying and making it easier for the majority of organisations who seek to handle personal information well, and tougher for the minority who do not." Thomas also has:

  • Established the ICO's position as a strategic regulator, with clear priorities for promotional, educational, complaint-handling and enforcement responsibilities
  • Substantially raised the public profile of privacy issues through fulfilment of a targeted communications strategy
  • Led two current Parliamentary enquiries and many other ongoing debates about the Surveillance Society
  • Launched specific initiatives, including the UK Privacy Impact Assessment Handbook; Employment and CCTV Codes of  Practice; Data Sharing Framework Code; and various enforcement actions in the banking, retail, law enforcement and public service sectors
  • Raised fundamental questions about new proposals, including national ID cards, the Children's Database and electronic health records
  • Championed new international projects, including Binding Corporate Rules and the London Initiative on improving Commissioner effectiveness
  • Implemented the UK Freedom of Information Act, with the ICO closing over 6,000 cases in the first three years

Appointed in November 2002, Thomas' term of office has been extended until June 2009. As Information Commissioner he has independent status, reporting directly to Parliament, with a range of responsibilities under the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Data Protection Act 1998 and related laws. The functions of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) include promoting good practice, ruling on complaints and taking regulatory action.

Before becoming Information Commissioner, Thomas held various high-profile positions including, Director of Public Policy at Clifford Chance; Director of Consumer Affairs at the Office of Fair Trading; Head of Public Affairs and Legal Officer at the National Consumer Council; and Solicitor with the Citizens Advice Bureau Service and Freshfields. He also previously held various public appointments, including membership of the Lord Chancellor's Civil Justice Review Advisory Committee and the Board of the Financial Ombudsman Service. Thomas has been awarded an honorary Doctor of Laws degree by the University of Southampton and is a visiting Professor at the University of Northumbria.

About the IAPP
The International Association of Privacy Professionals is the world's largest association of privacy professionals with more than 4,700 members globally. The IAPP helps define and support the privacy profession through networking, education and certification. More information about the IAPP is available at www.privacyassociation.org.