On April 27, 2016, the UK House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee (the “Committee”) confirmed Elizabeth Denham’s appointment as Information Commissioner. Denham, currently the Privacy and Information Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada, was announced as the UK Government’s preferred choice on March 22, 2016.

The Committee’s announcement followed a pre-appointment hearing on the same day, during which Denham fielded questions from a number of committee members. The discussion covered a broad range of topics, including:

  • a comparison of the British and Canadian data protection and freedom of information regimes;
  • Denham’s understanding of the EU framework that provides the foundation for UK data protection law;
  • the degree of responsibility that company directors should have for cybersecurity; and
  • the Information Commissioner’s Office itself, particularly its relations with parliament and its funding arrangements.

While stating her willingness to levy heavy fines for serious breaches of data protection law, she advocated an approach prioritizing proactive guidance, advice and education to those involved in data processing.

Following the hearing, the Committee published a report outlining the discussion and confirming her appointment as Information Commissioner. She will succeed Christopher Graham, whose term in office ends on June 28, 2016.