Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has allayed fears that the EU data protection reforms will lead him to dish out fines left, right and centre by declaring: “Let me reserve the big stick in the cupboard for those that need a good spanking.”
In a speech at the DMA data protection conference Graham claimed that his office will pursue a more pragmatic approach to regulation rather than come down hard on every company that finds itself in the dock for being on the wrong side of the law.
He told delegates: “I get pitying looks from colleagues in other member states. ‘You are so pragmatic’, they say. I am proud to pin my faith on a pragmatic approach, and that is what regulators should do. I am not interested in EU regulation that will turn me into a traffic warden.
“If you are following good practice now, you do not need to be unduly concerned. The commission and parliament knows what it thinks. The regulation is largely about process, but we shall see. Once the music stops we will issue revised guidance.
“We are in the enabling business, not denial business. We are denying cowboys getting in the way of what we are trying to do. If we do this properly, the citizen and consumer gains,” he added.
Graham explained that the ICO needed to concentrate on where there is the greatest harm, in terms of data protection issues. “It’s a good principle of management. You have to give me the discretion to determine the real harm,” he added. “Let me reserve the big stick in the cupboard for those that need a good spanking.”
Graham also hailed the DMA’s role in leading the fight against changes to laws governing marketing calls and texts. Last week the Government revealed that new regulations – coming into force on April 6 – have scrapped the threshold of complaints needed to impose fines.
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