NEWS
Information Commissioner calls for tough sentences for privacy breaches
02 Sep 2009
BY INDEX ON CENSORSHIP

Christopher Graham says his office has been “let down by MPs”. Index on Censorship reports

The new Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, has called for tough custodial sentences for media breaches of the Data Protection Act.

Speaking at the House of Commons Committee on Culture, Media and Sport, Graham cited the £200 fine handed down to a BNP member who leaked the party’s membership list on the Internet as evidence that breaches of privacy were not taken seriously as criminal offences.

He said MPs had been “seduced by the siren song of Fleet Street” into not pushing for a tougher approach to privacy breaches.

“I want that custodial sentence and I want it now,” he told MPs.

“We need a big stick in the cupboard,” said Graham, who succeeded Richard Thomas as Information Commissioner at the end of June 2009. “What we have now is a promissory note saying we’ll get a big stick if [privacy breaches] happen again.”

A frustated Graham said his office had been “let down by Parliament, let down by the courts, and let down by the newspaper groups” in its mission to protect private information.

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