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Outgoing Information Commissioner reflects on her work

Outgoing Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, who is handing over the reins over to New Zealander John Edwards, said she was most proud of her office's work on the Age Appropriate Design Code during her five years in the role.

Outgoing Information Commissioner reflects on her work
Elizabeth Denham: “Given the role that data plays in our society I think we’re only going to need to continue to grow.” Photograph: The Information Commissioner's Office, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Age Appropriate Design Code, known as the kid’s code, came into force in September and amongst other things prohibits location tracking and profiling of children. Tech firms which fail to comply can face severe financial penalties.

Speaking to the PA news agency, she said: "I think it’s the work that I’m most proud of because we can already see that the kids’ code, with its base level of protection by default, we can already see that’s making a change.

“I’m pleased to see the response but we’re now doing a sweep of the top 50 service providers for kids to see how they are complying with the code, so we’ve rolled up our sleeves and we’re doing that sweep right now.”

Since taking on the role Denham brought in more staff to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) and expects to see more change in the near future.

“We’ve brought in more expertise, economists, AI specialists, technical staff, so I think that’s positive,” she told PA.

“Given the role that data plays in our society I think we’re only going to need to continue to grow in at least our capacity to address these issues.”

Speaking of her successor, Denham described Edwards as an “international leader.”

“I’m absolutely delighted that he has been the successful candidate for Information Commissioner because I think he brings pragmatism, and deep content experience, I know he’s respected around the world,” she said.

“Although he’s coming from another country, just as I did from Canada, it’s a Commonwealth country with a similar legal framework and parliamentary framework, so I think that’s really helpful.”

He was questioned about the comments he made after the Christchurch attacks in 2019, when he described Facebook in a tweet as being “morally bankrupt, pathological liars.”

“That tweet came from a very profound context of national shock and grief at a very egregious terrorist act that was facilitated, amplified and propagated through that particular platform,” he said.

“Facebook and every other organisation which is subject to the ICO’s jurisdiction can expect a fair and impartial inquiry when I occupy that role, without predetermination.”

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