Since her appointment as BC’s Information and Privacy Commissioner in May 2010, Elizabeth Denham has raised the profile of information rights, promoted transparency in government, and adopted a proactive approach to the enforcement of access and privacy laws in British Columbia.
Promoting information rights is Commissioner Denham’s top priority. Ms Denham has led investigations into several high-profile privacy breaches and has completed systemic reviews that examine the impact of new and emerging technologies on access and privacy rights.
Ms Denham has led the office to adopt a proactive approach to the monitoring and enforcement of access and privacy laws. A policy and technology team conducts systemic investigations and monitors the latest developments in access and privacy, identifying areas where future work is needed.
Ms Denham is known for spearheading collaborative projects with her federal and provincial colleagues. She has co-authored numerous documents with other Canadian privacy commissioners, including the guidance document Getting Accountability Right with a Privacy Management Program. The document has received international attention for its innovative and practical approach, which emphasizes privacy management programs as building blocks that must be in place before programs are implemented and systems are built.
Ms Denham has been a strong voice for the access rights of British Columbians. A proponent of open government and open data, Ms. Denham has called for the proactive disclosure of records and published best practices for government ministries and public bodies.
Prior to her appointment in British Columbia, Ms Denham served as Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada (2007-2010), where she led a ground-breaking investigation into the privacy practices of Facebook which resulted in changes to the social networking site – changes that were implemented on a global basis. She also led the office’s discussions with Google, which prompted improvements to the company’s street level imaging service in Canada. Prior to her federal appointment, she served as Director, Private Sector, for the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Alberta (2003-2007).
Ms Denham is a frequent speaker on the many challenges of protecting privacy in a networked world. She is a director of the Centre for Law, Ethics, and Applied Research in Health Information, and a member of the IAPP Canadian Advisory Board. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in history and a Master’s degree in archival and information science from the University of British Columbia.
In 2011, Ms Denham was honoured as a UBC distinguished alumni for her pioneering work in archives and leadership in the field of access and privacy.