Elizabeth Denham has published her first annual report as the United Kingdom’s Information Commissioner.

She took the post in July 2016, as the ICO was starting to gear up for significant changes provided by the EU data protection reform package. This includes the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which will replace the current Data Protection Act in May 2018.

“My office is preparing for the future in data protection with new processes, a comprehensive change programme and an education and guidance programme for stakeholders and the public,” said Denham.

“As the laws we regulate change, there is an opportunity for us to improve the trust that the public feel in those who process their personal data or who make information available to the public.

“We have launched our new Information Rights Strategic Plan that places this trust at the heart of what the Information Commissioner’s Office will do in the next four years.”

 The report also stresses the importance of the digital economy to the UK going forward.

“Personal data and how it is handled is central to trade and growth, and studies show the digital economy is growing 30 per cent faster than the rest of the economy. Data knows no borders,” said Denham.

“Continued growth and citizen confidence in the digital economy needs an information rights regulator that is helpful, authoritative, tech-savvy and practical, but also a regulator that is firm and takes action when wrongdoing occurs.

“I believe that this report shows that our improving services and productivity make us that regulator.”

There has also been internal change at the ICO with the creation of a new Senior Leadership Team and a new departmental structure to best address future information rights challenges and opportunities, both in the UK and overseas.

The report includes the ICO’s annual operational performance statistics which were published separately earlier this year and which reflected the office’s work to regulate information rights in the UK.

Denham succeeded Christopher Graham, who had been Information Commissioner since 2009.