On January 28, 2013, European Data Privacy Day, the London office of Hunton & Williams hosted the launch of senior attorney Rosemary Jay’s fourth edition book, Data Protection Law & Practice, by publisher Sweet & Maxwell.
Speaking about the event, Rosemary noted the major changes since the first Data Protection Act was passed in the UK in 1984 and how far we have come, not only in terms of legislation and regulation, but also awareness and understanding. Alluding to the latest legislative proposals from Europe, she went on to say “we now stand on the threshold of another momentous change if the Proposed General Data Protection Regulation is passed.” The Commission’s proposed legislative package consists of two instruments: (1) a directive on data protection specifically relating to crime prevention, detection and investigation, and (2) a regulation on general data protection.
The event was attended by all of the UK Information Commissioners past and present, marking the first time such a gathering has taken place. The current UK Information Commissioner Christopher Graham was joined by his predecessors in office Eric Howe, Elizabeth France and Richard Thomas to discuss the factors that have influenced data protection in the UK and the key issues that will continue to influence future privacy developments. Topics of discussion included the rise of direct marketing, exploitation of data by credit reference agencies, the battle of identity registers and the creeping ubiquity of the “surveillance society.” The Commissioners were joined by the UK Minister of State for Justice, Lord McNally, who articulated the Government’s view on the importance of data protection in the digital age, saying that “one of the great challenges to Government in the 21st century is how to frame laws, both national and international, which will retain the benefits which access to data brings whilst retaining the rights to privacy which underpin free societies.”