Tuesday, 31 December 2013

My (unreliable) data protection predictions for 2014

The success of last year’s predictions (see my blog dated 31 December 2012) has inspired me to try again.  While a few were wide of the mark, others were spot on. Can my predictions be as reliable in 2014? Only time will tell.

BBC choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone OBE contacts the ICO chorus to ask if it is interested in TV special, and a concert supporting Susan Boyle during the Malaysian leg of her 2014 world tour. Information Commissioner Graham accepts the offer, realising it’s the only way he’ll get the funds to travel to the International Data Protection Commissioners Conference in Mauritius in 2014.

Emergency budget restrictions implemented at the ICO cause BT to cut off all telephone and internet lines to the ICO’s offices in Wilmslow due to non-payment of phone and internet bills. Problem noticed and resolved within 18 working days.

Roof falls in at the ICO’s annual conference in Manchester after thunderous applause greets a short speech from Information Commissioner Graham explaining what he really thinks of the soon-to-depart European Commissioner Vivien Reding.

Deputy Information Commissioner David Smith announces that, as annual staff turnover is now at a record 45%, to provide continuity of data protection guidance, he will commit himself to remaining with the ICO until his 94th birthday.

Commissioner Graham summoned to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to explain why the roof of the Manchester Convention Centre fell in while he was speaking last March. ICO ordered to pay the cost of the repairs.  ICO announces that it will do so by cutting the number of enforcement staff employed to fine public authorities for data protection breaches.

ICO announces that new budgetary restrictions mean more changes will be made to the procedure for registering DPA complainants. To ensure that complainants receive an even more attentive and personal service, complaints themselves are required to attend the ICO’s offices in Wilmslow, Cardiff, Edinburgh or Belfast in person to register their complaints. Emails containing complaints or copies of documents are no longer considered acceptable and will not counted towards the ICO’s statistics which show how it deals with complaints in a timely manner.

Guardian Newspaper publishes more revelations from Edward Snowden and the NSA. Information Commissioner Graham has evidently never been of sufficient interest to the British or US authorities to require the Home Secretary consider signing a warrant to intercept his private communications.  

Information Commissioner Graham summoned to the House of Commons Home Affairs Committee to explain why he was never considered sufficiently important to require scrutiny from the intelligence services. Commissioner Graham explains (yet again) that data protection is a bit of a Cinderella subject that very few people take seriously, which is why hardly anyone has complained when so much of his 2013 – 15 operating budget has been cut, and why so few national honours have ever been awarded for services to data protection. Evidence session brought to a prompt close to provide enough time for the next set of witnesses, who are to be questioned on the social menace of dog fouling along Frinton seafront.

Grand gala concert for the outgoing European Commissioner Viviane Reding in the European Parliament celebrates her many triumphs. The event is interrupted by a section of the audience who roundly boo the ICO chorus, not because of their vocal abilities, but because they are accompanied by the UKIP orchestra. Order only restored when Commissioner Graham and Viviane Reding sing a tender duet together. 

The incoming European Commissioner whose portfolio will include Data Protection (some politician from Denmark, Malta or Norway) explains that the Commission is now keen for the current Data Protection Directive should be replaced by a slightly revised Directive, rather than a complicated Regulation, to enable each EU Member State to be as beastly as they want to Apple, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter, and Yahoo!.

The International Association of Privacy Professionals announces changes to its daily news feeds. Such is the incessant data protection noise from all parts of the globe that its daily digest will be replaced with an hourly digest, bringing details of all those great seminars and webinars that people can register to attend (and for such reasonable fees). Monthly IAPP conferences are announced in every continent, causing many other data protection conference organisations to cease trading.  The European Commission criticises the IAAP’s international privacy certification scheme, arguing that it is not sufficiently focussed on local privacy rules.

A lucky data protection oik receives a letter from the Lord Chamberlain’s Department, explaining that if they’re everso good then HM Queen might be minded to award them a gong in recognition of their services to data protection. Said oik is then asked, if the award is forthcoming, whether they might kindly reconsider their previous announcement to retire from the ICO on their 94th birthday.

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