Advertising Standards chief to be next Information Commissioner

Christopher Graham, director general of the Advertising Standards Authority, is set to become the next Information Commissioner.

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Christopher Graham, director general of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), is set to become the next Information Commissioner.

He was named preferred candidate for the post today and is set to take over from Richard Thomas as data protection watchdog when Thomas leaves the post on 30 June.

Graham, a lay representative on the Bar Standards Board, will face a pre-appointment hearing by the Justice Select Committee, a powerful group of MPs, whose views on Graham’s suitability for the role will be considered by ministers before an appointment iconfirmed.

When Richard Thomas leaves the post at the end of June, he will leave behind him a legacy of change in public and private sector data protection. Since his appointment in 2002, Thomas has taken a firm line against the departments that have breached the terms of the Freedom of Information Act. Thomas has raised vital questions over the government’s handling of information, and also its moves towards what has been called a “surveillance society”. He also spoken out against the £4.7 billion ID card scheme.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in July served tough enforcement notices on HM Revenue & Customs, after the loss of 25 million records, and on the Ministry of Defence, after a laptop containing the details of 600,000 recruits was stolen. The ICO notices demand regular reports on action taken by those departments to improve their compliance with the Data Protection Act.

A year ago, Thomas found the Department of Health guilty of breaching the Data Protection Act, following an investigation into a security fiasco that hit the department’s Medical Training Application Service website.

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