Richard Thomas, former UK Information Commissioner and Global Strategy Advisor to the Centre for Information Policy Leadership, was invited to a unique event in Scotland last week.

Peter Hustinx, who retired as the European Data Protection Supervisor at the end of 2014, was awarded the Honorary Degree of Doctor of Science in Social Science by the University of Edinburgh.

This rare distinction, recognizing Peter’s “achievements and leadership in the field of information privacy and data protection” was conferred during an elaborate graduation ceremony which took place in the famous Usher Hall in the center of Edinburgh on July 1. Peter was cheered on by all his immediate family and several of his British friends.

The other Honorary Doctorate was awarded to Prof. Fabiola Gianotti, the prospective Director-General of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known as CERN, whose research with the Large Hadron Collider confirmed the existence of the Higgs boson. Her award was witnessed by Prof. Peter Higgs who received the Nobel Prize for his work establishing the theoretical possibility of this particle which bears his name.

Peter Hustinx stood tall alongside two giants of science whose work may yet reveal the origins of the universe. But, in the meantime, most people will probably treat the safeguarding of their privacy as a more immediate practical concern.