Elizabeth Denham started as the new UK Information Commissioner on 18 July 2016, following the conclusion of Christopher Graham’s tenure.
Ms Denham's appointment was first announced by the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee in April 2016. In announcing the selection of Ms Denham as the government's preferred candidate, the Committee referred to her track record with the Canadian government and her proactive approach to enforcing data protection law.
The new UK Information Commissioner has held senior positions in privacy regulation in Canada over the last 12 years. One of her most notable assignments was her Commissioner post at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada.
In her effort to promote information rights, she led a ground breaking investigation into the privacy practices of Facebook which led to the introduction of new privacy safeguards by the social media platform. She also released a high-profile report on how the Canadian government handles and records information, which raised concerns on governmental failure to keep adequate email records in response to information requests.
Elizabeth Denham will be the first UK Information Commissioner to oversee the proposed Investigatory Powers Bill (also known as the 'Snoopers' Charter) which is designed to deal with unlawful interception in both private and public telecommunication systems.
In view of the UK's potential withdrawal from the EU, the new Information Commissioner will also be faced with the need for reform of the UK's data protection regime. As the ICO pointed out in its July statement, data protection reforms will remain necessary to ensure international consistency around data protection laws and rights.
It remains to be seen how the new Information Commissioner will tackle those challenges and how her interests in the protection of data privacy and security will shape the UK's data protection landscape over her five year term.
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