British Columbia Regulator to Head U.K. Privacy Office

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By Ali Qassim

March 22 —British Columbia Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has been selected as the “preferred candidate” to replace Christopher Graham as the next U.K. Information Commissioner, the U.K. Department for Culture, Media & Sport announced March 22.

Graham has headed the Information Commissioner's Office-since February 2009. He is ending his second-term at the helm of the U.K.’s data protection authority in June 2016.

Graham—previously director general of the Advertising Standards Authority—succeeded Richard Thomas in 2009 and his position was extended for a two year term in 2014 .

Denham's appointment is subject to a pre-scrutiny hearing by the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee and final approval from Queen Elizabeth II.

Rapid Technological Change

“The rapid pace of technological change” will “continue to accelerate and present challenges to information rights,” Denham said in a statement.

“We must ensure access to information while maintaining high standards of data protection,” she said.

A priority for Denham in her new role will be overseeing the U.K.’s implementation of the new European Union General Data Protection Regulation which will replace the over 20-year-old Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC) .

Baroness Lucy Neville-Rolfe, parliamentary under secretary of state at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills and minister for intellectual property, said in a statement that Denham “has a track record of working with business and other stakeholders, as well as a proactive approach to enforcing data protection law.”

John Whittingdale, the secretary of state for Culture Media and Sport, added in a statement that Denham “brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the role having been British Columbia's Information and Privacy Commissioner for the past six years.”

Prior to her current role in British Columbia, Denham was the assistant privacy commissioner for the federal privacy office of Canada in Ottawa and a director at the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta between 2003 and 2007.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ali Qassim in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Daniel R. Stoller at