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Elizabeth Denham to start as UK information commissioner on 18 July 2016

Canadian Elizabeth Denham is to begin work as the UK’s information commissioner after a three-week delay

The UK’s new information commissioner Elizabeth Denham is to start work on 18 July 2016, the Information Commissioner’s Office has announced

The delay in taking over from her predecessor Christopher Graham, who vacated the role on 28 June 2016 after seven years, is due to a failure by government to obtain the Queen’s consent for Denham’s appointment in time.

Graham’s deputy, Simon Entwistle, has been standing in as information commissioner until Denham takes over the leadership of the ICO, which regulates the UK’s Data Protection Act, Freedom of Information Act and the rules around marketing calls and texts.

Denham was shortlisted in April 2016, and approved for the post of information commissioner by the Parliamentary Committee for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport on 27 April.

Denham said in a statement that she was delighted to be taking up the position and was excited by the challenges ahead.

“I look forward to working with staff and stakeholders to promote openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals,” she said.

Denham was appointed to a five-year term as information commissioner after holding senior positions in privacy regulation in Canada for the past 12 years.

Since 2010 she has been the commissioner at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada.

Denham will be the first UK information commissioner since the approval of the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Network Information Security (NIS) Directive and EU-US Privacy Shield framework.

Even post-Brexit, the UK is likely to have to make some changes to its current data protection laws as the GDPR will still affect UK companies.

Denham, who has a track record of taking a proactive approach to enforcing data protection law and tackling government on privacy issues, will also have to deal with implications for UK business of the controversial Investigatory Powers Bill that is well on its way to becoming law.  

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