The Government has announced that Elizabeth Denham, currently the Information & Privacy Commissioner in British Columbia, Canada, will succeed Christopher Graham as head of the UK regulator, subject to final approvals.
Denham is only the second woman to ever have held the role, Elizabeth France was commissioner betwen 1994 and 2002 and will take over from Graham in the summer on a five-year term and a salary of £140,000.
Her appointment is subject to scrutiny by the Culture, Media & Sports Select Committee and final, ceremonial, approval by The Queen.
However, this is likely to be a formality given the secretary of state for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), John Whittingdale, has put her forward for the role.
The challenge of the role should not be under-estimated. When the search began for Graham’s successor, he said: “Growing public concerns about privacy and public demand for transparency, combined with the upcoming EU data protection regulation and potential challenges to FOIA, mean that a fascinating and rewarding job just got even bigger and better.”
Commenting on the appointment, Whittingdale said: “I am delighted to put forward Elizabeth Denham as the UK’s next Information Commissioner. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role having been British Columbia’s Information & Privacy Commissioner for the past six years.”
Baroness Neville-Rolfe, minister for data protection, also gave her backing to Denham: “The work of the Information Commissioner is vital for public and business alike. I’m pleased that we are recommending Elizabeth Denham to take on this role.
“She has a track record of working with business and other stakeholders, as well as a proactive approach to enforcing data protection law.”
For her part, Denham said she was “honoured to be nominated” and was excited to join the ICO as data privacy becomes a major challenge.
“I believe the rapid pace of technological change we face will continue to accelerate and present challenges to information rights – we must ensure access to information while maintaining high standards of data protection,” she added.
“The Information Commissioner’s Office has a global reputation for practical, innovative and responsive regulation. I look forward to contributing to this work.”
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