Elizabeth Denham

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Elizabeth Denham

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner.jpg
Elizabeth Denham
British Information Commissioner
Assumed office
18 July 2016[1][2]
Preceded byChristopher Graham
Succeeded byincumbent
Personal details
Alma materUniversity of British Columbia

Elizabeth Denham, CBE is the UK Information Commissioner at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) in Cheshire. She took over the role from Christopher Graham in July 2016. Denham previously held the title of Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, having been appointed to that role in May 2010. Prior to this she had been the Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada from 2007.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Denham studied at the University of British Columbia (UBC) from 1977 to 1984 and holds a bachelor's degree in history and a master's degree in archival studies from UBC's iSchool (Library, Archival and Information Studies).[4]


During her time as Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Denham called for the proactive disclosure of records[5] and published best practices for government ministries and public bodies.[6] She also co-authored a guidance document called Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program.

Denham was appointed UK Information Commissioner in July 2016. She and her office deal with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 across the UK; and the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and, to a limited extent, in Scotland.

At the ICO, she welcomed the introduction of the data protection laws that came into effect in May 2018, and focused on the role data protection must play in innovation, and the importance of organisations understanding the growing onus on companies to be accountable for what they do with personal data. She also called for the Freedom of Information Act to be extended to private bodies doing work on behalf of the public, and proposed a review of legislation around the duty to document information.

Denham has undertaken investigations into Equifax, WhatsApp, Talk Talk, Uber, and Facebook, and oversaw the conclusion of the ICO’s investigation into charities' fundraising activities. She issued a series of fines for companies behind nuisance marketing, and in December 2018 she welcomed the new law that enabled the ICO to hold company bosses directly responsible and to fine them personally for breaches of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

She launched the inaugural Data Protection Practitioner Award for Excellence in Data Protection at the ICO's 11th annual conference.

Awards and offices[edit]

In 2011, Denham received the distinguished alumna award from UBC iSchool (Library, Archival and Information Studies) for her work in archives and the field of access and privacy.[7]

In 2013, she received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for her service as an officer of the legislature of British Columbia, Canada.[8]

In 2016, Denham was awarded the Grace-Pépin Access to Information Award for having been "a staunch advocate for access to information rights."[9]

In 2018, she was placed first in the DataIQ 100 Top 10.[10]

She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2019 New Years Honours for services to protecting information,[11] and is the current Chair of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners.[12]

In 2020 she was announced as the winner of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT’s Society Medal as a result of her office's investigation into unlawful data collection practices by political campaigns. [13]


  1. ^ "Elizabeth Denham to Start as New Information Commissioner" (Press release). Information Commissioner's Office. 15 July 2016. Archived from the original on 21 March 2018. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  2. ^ "UK's New Information Commissioner Formally Appointed" (Press release). Government of the United Kingdom. 15 July 2016. Retrieved 21 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Elizabeth Denham; Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada" (PDF). The Canadian Bar Association. 3–5 October 2011. Retrieved 20 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  4. ^ https://pacc-ccap.ca/congress/speakers-2/elizabeth-denham-2/[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ Palmer, Vaughn (22 March 2016). "B.C. Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham Moving on to Bigger Things". Vancouver Sun. Retrieved 20 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ "Guide to OIPC Processes". Office of the Information and Privacy Commission for British Columbia, (OIPC). Retrieved 20 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  7. ^ "Distinguished Alumni Award". UBC iSchool (Library, Archival and Information Studies). Retrieved 31 August 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  8. ^ "Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner". ico.org.uk. 1 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Winner of the 2016 Grace-Pépin Access to Information Award". www.newswire.ca. Retrieved 27 April 2018.
  10. ^ "Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham takes number one slot in DataIQ 100". DataIQ. Retrieved 18 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  11. ^ "Queens List 31 December 2018" (PDF). assets.publishing.service.gov.uk. Retrieved 29 December 2018.
  12. ^ "Executive Committee". ICDPPC. Retrieved 18 March 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ "BCS press release December 2020".
Government offices
Preceded by
Christopher Graham
UK Information Commissioner