Is data protection in the UK in good hands? • The register

Comment Nadine Dorries is the latest government minister responsible for leading data protection law across the troubled straits between the UK’s desire to unleash ‘the power of data in the economy and society for the benefit of UK citizens and UK businesses’, and the annoying need to comply with EU data protection law.

Tory politician once suspended from party whip for appearing on TV show in which she ate an ostrich anus may not be the obvious choice for the challenge, but that’s where we are today ‘hui.

Dorries replaces Oliver Dowden as Minister in charge of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports, following the ruthless cabinet reshuffle of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. If we take him at his word, Dowden is a man who cares about data. “Data is now one of the most important resources in the world. They fuel the global economy, spur science and innovation, and fuel the technology we rely on to work, shop and communicate with friends and family, ”he explained in the foreword. of the recent consultation on changes to UK data protection law.

Observers might point out that the direction of travel for UK law was not exactly the one that inspired faith in Dowden’s claim to want to maintain “high standards of data protection as well.”

Perhaps swayed by the prevailing political wind, outgoing Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham seemed more concerned about costs and the “bad user experience” for businesses, while the new Commissioner believes the UK can “go your own way” when it comes to data protection law. .

But at least Dowden, a former public relations official and known savvy political operator, was focused on the job.

Where is the spirit of Nadine Dorries? Join us if you wish on a journey through its most salient landmarks.

It’s fun working at DCMA …

Let’s start with I’m a celebrity… Get me out of here!, the ITV festival she sought fame on in 2012. In addition to the aforementioned consumption of bipedal fowl offal, the show caused her to apologize in the House of Commons for signing a confidentiality agreement that prevented him from disclosing his fees. She also falsely claimed that the payment for eight media jobs did not need to be reported. And then she took a year to declare her income in the member interest register.

But at least that could qualify her in the media aspect of her job title.

What about digital?

Well, if the 2017 password debacle is anything to go by, the omens aren’t good. In an attempt to defend her colleague Damian Green against the conclusion that the pornography found or viewed through his computer must have been something to do with him, she tweeted: “My staff is logging into my computer on my desktop with my all username. days. Including trainees in exchange programs. “

Outrage from the infosec experts and those with a little common sense ensued, but Dorries was not deterred. “All of my staff have my login details. A frequent cry when I get to sit down at my desk is, “What’s the password?” “” she added by way of explanation.

Any hope of continuity in departmental knowledge of the data law was dashed this morning when John Whittingdale, Minister of State for Media and Data since February 14, 2020, resigned. Having previously served as the Department’s Secretary of State, he said it had been “a privilege … to reform our data laws using our new Brexit freedom”.

But it was perhaps the media aspect of his role that was of primary concern to Boris Johnson when he removed Dorries from the talent pool. She will be responsible for overseeing the BBC, that famous pet peeve of the conservative right, having previously called him “a biased left-wing organization that seriously fails in its political representation, from top to bottom.”

As for culture? Maybe she qualifies for the role of author of historical novels, one of which nonetheless prompted a Telegraph reviewer to say it was the “worst novel I’ve read in 10 years.”

To be fair, Amazon reviews gave it four and a half stars out of five, however. Whether a talent for fiction is a prerequisite for any ambitious politician remains an open question. ®



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