JUSTICE Minister Ionas Nicolaou retracted on Wednesday his ministry’s suggestion of changing the title of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection to Information Commissioner after the incumbent Yiannos Danielides’ opposed the change.
Changing the title to Information Commissioner was suggested by Nicolaou after his ministry prepared a bill on the citizen’s right to access information held by public authorities, duties which concern Danielides’ office.
In an announcement Danielides said ‘information commissioner’ would be considered an attempt to undermine the “independent institution of the Commissioner for Personal Data Protection”.
“In no case should the message be sent that citizens’ access to documents is above the existing legislation concerning the protection of personal data,” he said.
Personal data protection deals with the protection of personal information of an individual against unauthorised and illegal collection, recording and further use. It also grants the individual certain rights, like the right of information and the right of access and gives them the chance to submit complaints to the commissioner’s office.
The public has accepted and fully understands what the title Commissioner for Personal Data Protection means, the announcement said, and they know that the institution is “intrinsically linked to fundamental human rights that concern their own personal and private lives and it is not possible to accept that they will easily turn to an ‘information commissioner’ to protect their personal data.
Following the announcement, Nicolaou said that the title could be changed to Commissioner for Personal Data Protection and Information but that his ministry was open to suggestions.
The main aim was to maintain the existing tasks of the commissioner and take on the additional responsibilities provided in the bill, Nicolaou said.