Sunday 12 June 2011

Join the Data Protection Forum!

In an election that FIFA would have been proud to have organised, I was duly elected Chair of the Data Protection Forum last Tuesday. I was the only candidate. And there were as many retiring members from the Management Committee as there were individuals who had previously indicated a desire to be elected onto it. So I ran a very fast ballot. I shall try not to let this rush of popularity, privilege, or power, go to my head. Nor shall I wilt in my campaign to encourage other institutions to become ever more democratic, accountable and transparent.

Election pledge over.

You really ought to consider joining the Forum, if you have not already done so. And if you need bullet points to put on a Power Point presentation to justify the annual £150 fee to your finance team, here they are:

• Cost effective
• Good quality speakers at the quarterly events
• Brilliant networking opportunities
• Passive membership – with exception of committee members
• Wide range of interests across membership (public and private sector)
• Professional secretariat/administration

Did I make a typo when I referred to the fact that it only costs £150 a year to attend the 4 sessions that are held at an extremely comfortable conference venue in Central London (plus a free 3 course Christmas lunch with a considerable amount of wine to celebrate yet another year of data protecting)? Actually not. The membership fees just about cover the catering costs of each event, plus our small administrative overheads. So, if you want to take a look at the roster of previous speakers – point your browser in the direction of the Forum’s website, maintained by our gloriously efficient administrator, Tina. If you’re one of those who need to maintain a log of your continuing education, your £150 subscription could also earn you 18 CPD points.

I do urge you to consider membership. Even people who organise other data protection conferences attend – so the Forum must be doing something worthwhile!

The next meeting – to be held on Tuesday 6 September, should include a presentation by Christopher Graham, the Information Commissioner himself. He tries to attend – or to send a Deputy Information Commissioner, at least once a year.

And the following event – to be held on Tuesday 6 December, should include a presentation by another UK Commissioner – whose data protection-type work is constantly referred to in the media, but whom many in the data protection field have not have the pleasure of meeting. I won’t say any more about this person for the time being. But, you will be glad say that you have actually been able to have seen, heard and questioned that person! And I know that they have not spoken at any public data protection-type conference before...