Canadian Elizabeth Denham’s appointment as Information Commissioner for the United Kingdom was confirmed on April 27, 2016 by the UK House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee.
The role of Information Commissioner includes providing leadership and strategic direction, building and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders, and contributing to the development of national and international policy on data protection and freedom of information issues.
According to her profile, Denham was assistant privacy commissioner of Canada from 2007 to 2010, during which time led” a ground-breaking investigation into the privacy practices of Facebook which resulted in changes to the social networking site [and] also led the office’s discussions with Google, which prompted improvements to the company’s street level imaging service in Canada”. She was appointed as British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner in 2010.
She is known for her proactive and transparent approach to the enforcement of access and privacy laws. Her work has raised the profile of information rights and has placed a greater focus on the impact of new and emerging technology. She is perhaps best known for the fallout from her Access Denied report on the opaque practices of the B.C. provincial government in deleting e-mails with the intention of destroying all documentary evidence of the communications.
Denham’s new role will put her in the middle of several upcoming privacy debates in that country including a new Europe-wide privacy law is coming up. Her decisions in the U.K. will continue to have an impact on privacy law here in Canada.
Denham will begin her five year term as Information Commissioner in the summer, replacing the incumbent, Christopher Graham.