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ICO extends commissioner Denham’s term of office

Extension of Elizabeth Denham’s tenure as information commissioner will give the government more time to appoint her successor

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham is to remain in her post for longer than anticipated to allow the government more time to recruit her successor.

Denham, a Canadian national and former information and privacy commissioner for the province of British Columbia, and assistant privacy commissioner of Canada, joined the Information Commisioner’s Office (ICO) in 2016, and notably oversaw the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018.

An ICO spokesperson said: “Following a request from the secretary of state for DCMS, Elizabeth Denham has agreed to extend her term as information commissioner to 31 October 2021, while the recruitment process for her successor is completed.”

Denham, who was criticised last year for returning to Canada for a time to work remotely during a critical phase of the ICO’s pandemic response, was due to have left the five-year post in July.

In a blog post announcing the extension of her term, and looking ahead to 2021, Denham said there was a positive story to tell about the ICO’s work this year.

Even though the organisation’s primary focus remains on supporting organisations through the Covid-19 pandemic, Denham said she expected data sharing to be a key area of interest in 2021.

“We’ll also be focused on supporting organisations around data sharing, following the publication of our guidance last month. The guidance is accompanied by practical resources to help organisations share data in line with the law.

“As I discussed with the House of Lords Public Services Committee this month, data sharing is an important area of focus, and we will also be supporting broader work to encourage the necessary culture change to remove obstacles to data sharing,” she wrote.

The ICO’s bill of work this year also includes the anticipated impact of the Age Appropriate Design Code as the transition period around its introduction ends, new guidance on political campaigning, facial recognition, and codes of conduct and certification schemes.

Its operational work in 2021 will include new phases of work looking at data broking practices, the now-resumed investigation into adtech, and how the personal information of victims of sexual crime is used.

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