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ICO Data Protection Officer of the Year announced

08 April 2019

RECOGNISING THE increasingly vital role played by professionals working in the sector, the second ICO Practitioner Award for Excellence in Data Protection was presented to Mikko Niva, Group Policy Officer at Vodafone Group Services Ltd based in London.

Chosen by an independent panel, Mr Niva has been recognised for delivering a pioneering global privacy compliance programme for Vodafone across 21 different countries, and for being a constant advocate for information and privacy rights.

Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham and Margot James MP, Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries, presented the award to Mr Niva at the ICO’s 12th annual Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference (DPPC) in Manchester on Monday 8 April.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner, said, “Data protection practitioners play a crucial role in ensuring that organisations’ data protection practices are keeping up with changes in technology and truly putting people at the heart of what they do.

“I would like to congratulate Mikko Niva for winning this year’s award. Mikko’s dedication in leading his business to understand how important privacy is to inspire public trust and confidence is truly commendable.”

Mr Niva said, “I am honoured and humbled for this recognition and proud to be part of Vodafone, a company that places great importance on privacy.

“As privacy professionals we are fortunate to work at the intersection between technology, ethics and compliance. The work we do is vital to ensuring that the digitisation of our society happens with the highest standards for the benefits of consumers and society. It’s a privilege to be a part of that.”

Paul Jordan, managing director Europe at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAAP), who was one of the judges, said, “This year nominations were all of high calibre, having done some really great GDPR integration work for their respective organizations and stakeholders; it made the judging process all the more difficult.

"My congratulations to Mikko Niva in winning this prestigious ICO award. Mikko is a recognised data protection expert, and Data Protection Officer (DPO), who has been a tremendous advocate for GDPR and data protection both within Vodafone, but also importantly outside his organization speaking on privacy at multiple conferences. Mikko, your continued leadership in the field, and continued support for the privacy profession is an inspiration.”

Jon Baines, chair of NADPO and data protection advisor at Mishcon de Reya LLP, who was one of the judges, said, "I was delighted to be asked, for the second year running, to judge the ICO's Data Protection Officer of the Year award.

“As chair of the National Association of Data Protection and Freedom of Information Officers, I think it is fantastic that DPOs are finally getting the recognition they deserve, and the ICO award is a key driver for that.

“A DPO has such a complex and challenging task, but one that can be tremendously rewarding. A national award from the regulator is truly a badge of honour for a DPO."

Winner of the 2018 award, Esther Watt, data protection officer at North Kesteven Council in Lincolnshire said, “It’s been a really busy and fulfilling year since winning last year’s award. On a personal level, I’ve been making sure that we, as an organisation, are doing everything correctly and consistently when it comes to data protection legislation, while educating our colleagues and elected Members of their obligations. I continue to look forward to taking data protection forward and have been excited to play a key part in this.”

Attended by more than 800 delegates, this year’s DPPC highlighted the ICO’s current and future work in areas including technology policy and grants programme, enforcement and regulatory action, and the challenge of Brexit to data protection.