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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

UK Information Commissioner "reliable ally" for FOI and privacy rights

Shorter posts, on holidays

UK Information Commissioner Richard Thomas has blasted chief executives of private and public sector bodies over serious security lapses that have led to data security breaches concerning personal information. Thomas said that his message to those at the top of organisations, is to take privacy issues seriously, and to add "to be sure you are not the business or political leader who failed to take information rights seriously".

The Guardian took this opportunity in an editorial to praise Thomas for his role in siding "with the individual whether they are battling to get their hands on paper that the government would rather keep secret or trying to safeguard their privacy by ensuring that personal secrets are treated with respect".

There is a lesson here for those in Australia who might be interested in new ways to promote Freedom of Information and ensure adequate privacy protection. Thomas in the UK has wide powers on both fronts, and has been prepared to use his position to speak out strongly about the importance of open government and privacy principles. He also apparently also has the personal qualities to make others sit up and listen. Someone of this calibre can exercise responsibility for FOI and privacy and get the balance right.

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