Gov picks Canadian as next ICO chief

Elizabeth Denham will take over UK privacy watchdog role this summer

The UK's next Information Commissioner is set to be Elizabeth Denham, who is currently Canada's own information and privacy commissioner.

The Canadian is the government's preferred candidate to replace Christopher Graham, who has served as head of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) since 2009.

If Denham's appointment is approved by the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee, and gains final approval from the Queen, she will serve a five-year time starting over the summer, with the possibility of extending this.

Eizabeth Denham

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Denham, who has taken action against Facebook in Canada over its failure to delete users' personal information from its servers, would be responsible for upholding data protection rights in the UK.

She said: "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.

"The ICO has a global reputation for practical, innovative and responsive regulation. I look forward to contributing to this work."

Outgoing commissioner Graham called Denham's appointment an "inspired choice", adding: "As commissioner for both privacy and access to information in a similar jurisdiction, Elizabeth has shown independence of judgement and toughness of character.

"She will be a great leader for the ICO as it adapts to the demands of the new data protection framework - and she'll be an effective upholder of information rights both in the UK and internationally." 

If approved, Denham will take charge of the ICO as the government pushes through the Investigatory Powers Bill, also known as the Snooper's Charter, which would see government agencies hold far more power to collect and monitor citizens' data.

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John Whittingdale MP, secretary of state for Culture Media and Sport, which is the ICO's sponsoring department within government, 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 and Privacy Commissioner for the past six years."

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