Newly appointed information commissioner Elizabeth Denham has officially taken over as head of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Denham, whose appointment was confirmed in March, will serve a five-year term and replaces long-standing former information commissioner Christopher Graham.
She was previously information and privacy commissioner in British Columbia, and will be paid a salary of £140,000 in the new role.
Denham explained that she is excited about the job and the chance to take the organisation forward in the interests of all relevant parties.
“I am delighted to have taken up this position and am excited about 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 faces numerous challenges in the role, not least overseeing the remit of the ICO when the UK leaves the European Union, and the problems this will pose around how businesses will adhere to UK national data protection law, and to European law if trading with remaining EU nations.
Currently the view is that the UK will adopt the incoming General Data Protection Regulation to ensure consistency for businesses that want to trade with Europe, but this is no guarantee given how much has changed in just three weeks since the referendum.
There is also the ongoing push to increase judges' powers to sentence data thieves, as the current guidelines usually leave those that steal sensitive data facing nothing more than paltry fines.
This was always a bugbear of Graham's, who campaigned hard for the government to make it possible for those that steal data to face the risk of prison. Denham may well feel the same and continue this crusade.
Graham actually left the role last month. Deputy commissioner Simon Entwisle took over for the interim and Denham now officially takes over.
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