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Government approves Elizabeth Denham as next information commissioner

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee approves Elizabeth Denham as the UK’s next information commissioner

The government has approved British Columbia’s privacy commissioner Elizabeth Denham as the UK’s next information commissioner.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee has published its official report approving Denham as the successor for Christopher Graham, whose term of office ends on 28 June 2016.

The report follows the pre-appointment hearing, during which the committee could have exercised a veto.

Only the Queen’s approval is required before Denham’s appointment can be confirmed.

Graham was appointed in 2009 on a five-year term that was extended for two years, but rules under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012 mean he cannot be reappointed.

Commenting recently on his likely successor, Graham said Denham would be a “great leader” of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

“I know she will continue with the approach developed by Richard Thomas and carried on by me to make sure the ICO is an effective partner in delivering information rights in the UK, and an influential voice in Europe, to achieve the benefits of the digital era while retaining citizens’ rights, privacy and respect,” he said.

Denham’s approval by government has been welcomed by the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), which has worked closely with the ICO to ensure marketers are adhering to data best practices

Read more about the GDPR

Chris Combemale, chief executive of the DMA Group, said Denham’s approval should be welcomed by the whole marketing sector.

“During her pre-appointment hearing, she discussed her proactive approach to enforcing the laws around data protection and her views on a range of other topics.

“We look forward to working together to build a framework for the industry that fits with GDPR [General Data Protection Regulation], Privacy Shield and the expectations of consumers, allowing them to do more than just be compliant, but also put their customers at the heart of what they do,” he said.

GDPR affects UK business

In the next five years, Denham will be the first UK information commissioner to work under the GDPR and will have to manage the change that it will bring to data protection in the UK

If the UK remains in the EU, the GDPR is likely to make a substantial impact on the way the UK’s ICO functions – and even if the UK leaves the EU, the GDPR will still affect UK companies.

Either way, data protection experts believe the adoption of the GDPR will require the UK to replace its current data protection legislation as a result of changes in European legislation. 

Read more on Privacy and data protection