I’ll freely admit that I’d never heard of the Earl of Erroll but he got my attention today after I read that he proposed an amendment to the Protection of Freedoms bill before Parliament to create a position of Privacy Commissioner. Here’s the text of his proposed amendment:
(1) The Secretary of State shall appoint a Commissioner to be known as the Privacy Commissioner (referred to in this section as “the Commissioner”).
(2) It shall be the duty of the Commissioner to promote respect for individual privacy.
(3) The Commissioner shall have all the duties and functions set out in—
(a) section 51 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (Data Protection Commissioner),
(b) section 57 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Interception of Communications Commissioner),
(c) section 91 of the Police Act 1997 and section 62 of the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (Chief Surveillance Commissioner),
(d) section 20 of this Act (Commissioner for the Retention and Use of Biometric Material),
(e) section 34 of this Act (Surveillance Camera Commissioner).
(4) The Commissioner shall have all the powers which attach to the offices set out in subsection (3).
(5) The Commissioner shall arrange for the dissemination in such form and manner as he considers appropriate of such information as it may appear to him expedient to give to the public about any matter within the scope of his functions under this Act, and may give advice to any person as to any of those matters.
(6) Any reference in any enactment, instrument or other document to a person carrying out the duties and functions set out in subsection (3) shall be construed, in relation to any time after the commencement of this section, as a reference to the Commissioner.
(7) Any appointment made to any of the offices set out in subsection (3) is hereby terminated.”
So, if passed, the U.K. would have a central Privacy Commissioner. Sadly, the proposal doesn’t attach any new authority or powers to the role above and beyond what individual offices already have. But it’s a start.