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Elizabeth Denham publishes first annual report as ICO head

The UK information commissioner has published her first annual report since taking over the post in July 2016

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is preparing for the future in data protection, says information commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

This includes new processes, a comprehensive change programme and an education and guidance programme for stakeholders and the public, she said in her first annual report since taking over from her predecessor, Christopher Graham.

At the time, the ICO was starting to gear up for a new legislative framework for data protection provided by the European Union data protection reform package. That work continues, said Denham, with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance deadline set for May 2018.

“As the laws we regulate change, there is an opportunity for us to improve the trust that the public feel in those who process their personal data or who make information available to the public. We have launched our new Information Rights Strategic Plan, which places this trust at the heart of what the Information Commissioner’s Office will do in the next four years,” said Denham.

The report includes the ICO’s annual operational performance statistics, published in May 2017, that revealed the ICO had dealt with a record number of data protection incidents, nuisance marketing cases and individual complaints in the past year.

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There has also been internal change at the ICO with the creation of a new senior leadership team and a new departmental structure to best address future information rights challenges and opportunities, both in the UK and overseas.

“The digital economy is very important to the UK – personal data and how it is handled is central to trade and growth, and studies show the digital economy is growing 30% faster than the rest of the economy. Data knows no borders,” said Denham.

“Continued growth and citizen confidence in the digital economy needs an information rights regulator that is helpful, authoritative, tech-savvy and practical, but also a regulator that is firm and takes action when wrongdoing occurs. I believe this report shows that our improving services and productivity make us that regulator,” she said.

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