Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been left red faced following reports that a data protection book she had provided a foreword to has been pulled by the publisher following accusations of plagiarism and basic errors.
The issue, first exposed in Private Eye’s “Dunce’s Corner”, concerns a book entitled The GDPR Handbook which was written by Adri Kolah and published by Kogan Page.
According to the report, in the foreword Denham described Kolah as “flying the flag” for the implementation of GDPR. However, Kogan Page removed it from sale after a number of data protection experts emailed the company to point out their concerns.
A Freedom of Information request has since revealed that the Commissioner “did not study the book” but based her comments “prior confidence” in the author.
In fact, the ICO said no information was held on whether anyone in the office had reviewed the book, any notes the Commissioner had made while reviewing it or on what criteria was used to make the claim that it was “authoritative”.
It did, however, release emails between Denham and Kolah about the deal, which show the author asking “Liz” to “work your magic” and then repeatedly chasing her for the foreword, which was eventually sent over on 6 April.
In an effort to prevent future episodes, the ICO said it was now “developing a corporate policy on how requests for support and collaboration from third parties will be dealt with in the future”.
On LinkedIn, one data protection expert wrote: “I worked under two Commissioners and they were very wary of this kind of thing.”
Another added: “A Commissioner all-too-happy to endorse books and, with that, crucially, authors and ‘experts’. Wow. I might ask if the Commissioner would endorse a tattoo I’ve been considering for a while. She doesn’t have to see it. It’s about privacy. Jings crivvens.”
A third simply stated: “Big Ouch!!”
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