In order of appearance:
UK Information Commissioner
Elizabeth Denham was appointed UK Information Commissioner in July 2016, having previously held the position of Information and Privacy Commissioner for British Columbia, Canada and Assistant Privacy Commissioner of Canada.
She has set out a commitment to increase consumer trust people have in what happens to their personal data. This forms the basis of her strategic plan, and has been demonstrated in her commitment to ensuring companies are transparent with the public about how personal information is used, notably with high-profile investigations into Yahoo, Camelot, WhatsApp and Facebook.
The Commissioner has also demonstrated a focus on the essential role data protection can play in innovation, and the importance of organisations understanding the growing impetus on companies to be accountable for what they do with personal data. This forms a central part of the new General Data Protection Regulation, which comes into force in May 2018.
Acting Scottish Information Commissioner
In May 2017, pending the appointment of the new Scottish Information Commissioner, the Scottish Parliament appointed Margaret as the Acting Scottish Information Commissioner. In this role, Margaret is responsible for the full range of the Commissioner’s statutory duties under FOI law and is also the Accountable Officer for the organisation.
This is the second time Margaret has been appointed as Acting Commissioner since she joined the Scottish Information Commissioner as Head of Enforcement in 2003.
As Head of Enforcement, Margaret and her team carry out investigations to determine whether public authorities have complied with the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and the Environmental Information (Scotland) Regulations 2004.
She provides legal advice to the Commissioner on FOI and on appeals to the Court of Session and Supreme Court against the Commissioner’s decisions.
Before starting work with the Commissioner, Margaret was Principal Solicitor with a local authority, where she focused mainly on data protection issues and carried out legal work for social services.
Director of the School of Public Policy, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Alasdair Roberts is Director of the School of Public Policy at University of Massachusetts Amherst, and a professor of political science and public policy.
Professor Roberts writes on problems of public administration, law and public policy. His latest book is Can Government Do Anything Right?, forthcoming from Polity Books in 2018. His previous book, Four Crises of American Democracy, was published by Oxford University Press in 2017. He has written five other books, including Blacked Out: Government Secrecy in the Information Age (Cambridge University Press, 2006).
In 2014, Professor Roberts received Canada’s Grace-Pépin Award for his research on open government. He was elected as a fellow of the US National Academy of Public Administration in 2007. He has served as co-editor of the journal Governance since 2009.
A Canadian citizen, Professor Roberts received a JD from the University of Toronto, and a Ph.D. in Public Policy from Harvard University. View Alasdair’s website at aroberts.us.
Emily O’Reilly was elected as the European Ombudsman in 2013. She is an author and former journalist who became Ireland’s first female Ombudsman in 2003 and in 2007 she was also appointed Commissioner for Environmental Information and Freedom of Information Commissioner.
As former political editor, broadcaster and author, her career attracted significant domestic and international recognition including a Harvard University Fellowship in 1988 and multiple national awards.
Ms O’Reilly is a graduate of University College Dublin with a Degree in European Languages and Literature (1979) and holds a Graduate Diploma in Education from Trinity College Dublin (1980). She was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate in Laws by the National University in Ireland in 2008 for her work in promoting human rights throughout her career as a journalist and through her work as Ombudsman. In 2014 she was conferred a second time with an Honorary Doctorate of Law from University College Dublin in Ireland.
- View a transcript of Ms O’Reilly’s speech from Wednesday 20 September on the European Ombudsman’s website.
Scottish Public Services Ombudsman
In her role as Scottish Public Services Ombudsman (SPSO), Rosemary Agnew investigates complaints about Scottish Public Services, including the Scottish National Health Service, Fire and Ambulance Services, Local Councils, the Scottish Government, the Scottish Prison Service, and Scottish Water (most public services except the Police). Her role also includes setting and monitoring complaint handling standards across Scotland.
Before taking up post as the SPSO, Rosemary was the Scottish Information Commissioner, from 1 May 2012 up until 30 April 2017. Those of you who have met and know Rosemary know that she is committed to openness and transparency, and the right to have access to information; both to hold public services to account, and as part of wider citizen engagement. That commitment has not diminished since she became Ombudsman, and remains a major interest of hers in terms of how public services can be more transparent at the point of delivery, while still protecting privacy.
Project lead, FragDenStaat.de
Arne Semsrott is project lead for the German FOI platform FragDenStaat.de at the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. More than half of FOI requests in Germany are filed through FragDenStaat.
Originally a political scientist, Arne also works as a freelance journalist and engages with other NGOs in topics related to transparency and lobbyism, e.g. for Transparency International Germany, University Watch and the Whistleblower Network.
Head of Compliance and Co-operation, Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection, Republic of Serbia
Nevena Ruzic is the Head of Compliance and Cooperation Department at the Commissioner for Information of Public Importance and Personal Data Protection Republic of Serbia.
Her work is both in the field of freedom of information and personal data protection, namely it covers compliance of regulation with constitutional and international provisions and standards pertaining to these rights.
Before working with the Commissioner (starting in 2009), Nevena was the Freedom of the Media Coordinator at the OSCE Mission to Serbia (from 2004) and legal consultant at a national NGO – YUCOM (from 2001).
Her work has predominantly been in the field of information, offline and online – freedom of expression and information, personal data, classified data, internet data and regulation.
She is a lawyer by profession and holds two masters – in contemporary diplomacy from the University of Malta and in law from the University of Leeds.
Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner
Mr Timothy Pilgrim is the Australian Information Commissioner and Australian Privacy Commissioner. Timothy has been Australian Privacy Commissioner since 2010 and was Acting Australian Information Commissioner from 2015. Prior to this, Timothy was the Deputy Privacy Commissioner from 1998 to 2010. Before joining the Office of the Privacy Commissioner, Timothy held senior management positions in a range of Australian Government agencies, including the Small Business Program within the Australian Taxation Office and the Child Support Agency.
Timothy has made a significant contribution to the field of privacy in Australia. His achievements include involvement in developing the private sector provisions of the Privacy Act 1988, which included widespread consultation with community, business and government organisations. He also played a key role in implementing the private sector provisions, which took effect on 21 December 2001. More recently, Timothy has led the implementation of the 2014 reforms to the Privacy Act, the most significant reforms to the Act since its commencement.
Vice President and Executive Director, Access Info Europe
Helen Darbishire is a human rights activist specialising in the public’s right of access to information (freedom of information), and the development of open and democratic societies with participatory and accountable governments. Helen is founder and Executive Director of the Madrid-based NGO Access Info Europe, established in 2006 to promote the right of access to information in Europe and globally. Helen has worked for over 20 years as a human rights professional, focusing on issues of freedom of expression and information, media freedom, civil society development, and democratisation.
Prior to setting up Access Info Europe, Helen worked as a campaigner and project manager at Article 19 (1989 to 1998) based in London and Paris, and for the Open Society Institute (1999-2005) where she directed programmes on freedom of expression and freedom of information, based in Budapest and New York. Helen has provided expertise to a wide range of non-governmental and inter-governmental organisations, including UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, and the World Bank. She is a founder of the global Freedom of Information Advocates Network and served two terms as its chair (2004-2010).
She holds a degree in History and Philosophy of Science and Psychology from Durham University, UK. Resident in Madrid, she speaks English, French and Spanish.
Director, Campaign for Freedom of Information, UK
Maurice Frankel has worked with the Campaign for Freedom of Information since it was set up in 1984, and has been its director since 1987 He drafted the series of successful private members’ bills promoted by the Campaign which became law in the 1980s providing rights of access to various types of personal files and environmental information. He was a member of the Commonwealth Group of Experts whose Freedom of Information Principles were adopted by Commonwealth Law Ministers in 1999.
He was heavily involved in persuading the government to introduce the UK’s FOI Act, seeking to improve the bill during its Parliamentary passage in 2000 and encouraging authorities to implement positively. With the Campaign, he monitors the way the Act is being applied, assists requesters, provides training to both public authorities and requesters and, every 18-24 months, drops everything to try defend the Act from the latest attempt to weaken it.
Information and Privacy Commissioner, Alberta, Canada
Jill Clayton was sworn in as Alberta’s third Information and Privacy Commissioner on February 1, 2012. She was reappointed to a second five-year term on February 1, 2017. Ms. Clayton began her career with Alberta’s Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner (OIPC) in 2004 as a portfolio officer with the team responsible for ensuring oversight and compliance with Alberta’s Personal Information Protection Act (PIPA). She served as acting director, PIPA, from 2007 to 2008 and director, PIPA, from 2008 to 2011. In June of 2010 Ms. Clayton was appointed Assistant Commissioner, responsible for the development, implementation and oversight of amendments to PIPA, particularly mandatory breach notification requirements.
Prior to her service with the OIPC Ms. Clayton worked as a privacy consultant, providing services to public- and private-sector clients, primarily in the health care, oil and gas, telecommunications and non-profit sectors. She also worked for the Bethany Care Society as manager, planning and performance measurement, from 2001 to 2002, and records management coordinator from 1998 to 2000. Born in Calgary, Ms. Clayton holds degrees in History (BA) and Environmental Design (MEDes Planning) from the University of Calgary.
Information Commissioner of Canada
Suzanne Legault is Canada’s current Information Commissioner. During her tenure, the Commissioner and her team conducted more than 10,000 investigations and completed several systemic investigations. She has also steered several precedent setting cases through the Federal Court.
The Commissioner has worked to advance freedom of information at home and abroad. She has supported her national colleagues through joint resolutions, various provincial legislative reform initiatives and interventions before the courts. She has assisted many countries in their efforts to advance transparency in partnership with the Carter Center, the Organisation of American States, the World Bank and Global Affairs Canada. Notably, she has worked in India, Nigeria, Chile, Argentina, Guatemala, Peru and Mexico. In 2011, she hosted the 7th International Information Commissioners conference. The Commissioner was an early advocate for Open Government leading the way for the adoption by the Canadian government of its Open Government initiative.
Prior to joining the Public Service, Ms. Legault practised law as a criminal defense lawyer from 1991 to 1996, as well as Crown prosecutor from 1994 to 1996. Ms. Legault holds a Bachelor of Civil Law and a Bachelor of Common Law from McGill Law School, which she obtained in 1988.
Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy
Toby Mendel is the Executive Director of the Centre for Law and Democracy, a Canadian-based international human rights NGO that provides legal and capacity building expertise regarding foundational rights for democracy, including the right to information, freedom of expression, the right to participate and the rights to assembly and association. Prior to that, he was for over 12 years Senior Director for Law at ARTICLE 19, a human rights NGO focusing on freedom of expression and the right to information.
He has collaborated extensively with inter-governmental actors working in these areas – including the World Bank, the UN and other special international rapporteurs on freedom of expression, UNESCO, the OSCE and the Council of Europe – as well as numerous governments and NGOs in countries all over the world. His work spans a range of areas, including legal reform and analysis, training, advocacy and capacity building. He has published extensively on a range of freedom of expression, right to information, communication rights and refugee issues. Before joining ARTICLE 19, he worked as a senior human rights consultant with Oxfam Canada and as a human rights policy analyst at the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA).
Chief Information Commissioner, India
Mr. Radha Krisha Mathur joined Central Information Commission in 2016 as the eighth Chief Information Commissioner in the Central Information Commission, India. Under the three tier structure established by the Indian Right to Information Act, 2005, the Central Information Commission is responsible for enforcing Indian citizens’ Right to Information.
Mr Mathur graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology, obtaining a Bachelor of Technology degree. He obtained an M.Tech degree from Indian Institute of Technology, Dehli. He is a master of Business Administration from ICP, Ljublijana, Slovenia.
His last assignment in the Government of India before superannuating was as defence secretary in the Government of India. He also served as Secretary to Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium enterprises and Secretary, Departments of Defence Production and Supplies in the Government of India. He also headed the administrative structure of one of the Indian States, Tripura, as Chief Secretary.
Deputy Executive Director, Society of Editors
Ian Murray was appointed to the position of Deputy Executive Director of the Society of Editors in April 2017 and is overseeing the Society’s work while Bob Satchwell recovers from illness. He is the former Editor of the Southern Daily Echo and the Editor in Chief of Newsquest’s Hampshire titles. He stepped down from the role in 2017 after 20 years in the position. Alongside editing the Daily Echo, he was also in charge of the weekly free News Extra Series in the Southampton region, the New Forest Post, and Hampshire Society magazine series. He was the president of the Society of Editors for 2013-2014 and has been a member of the Society since its formation in 1999.
Ian formerly sat on the Editors’ Code Committee which oversees the industry’s Code of Practice.
Data and photojournalist, BBC
Marc Ellison is an award-winning data and photojournalist currently based in Glasgow. Armed with Masters’ degrees both in computer science and journalism, he’s passionate about harnessing new technologies and formats to tell stories.
When Marc’s not coding webscrapers, filing FOIs or wrangling data for BBC Scotland, he’s working across Africa documenting human rights abuses via photography, 360 video and graphic novels. Marc has produced work for 60 Minutes, Al Jazeera English, BBC, CBC, The Globe and Mail, The Guardian, Huffington Post, The Toronto Star, and Vice.
He was awarded the inaugural Canadian Open Data award for his series on lobbying in Toronto, and his interactive graphic novels on child soldiers and female genital mutilation have won World Press Photo and Amnesty International awards.
Director, Full Fact
Will Moy has been the Director of Full Fact, the independent fact checking charity, since 2010, through three referendums, the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, the European Parliamentary and 2015 general elections.
He appears regularly on TV, radio, and at events to discuss Full Fact’s work and factchecks, as well as giving evidence to the Leveson Inquiry and select committee inquiries.
Before Full Fact, Will worked for the non-party-affiliated peer Lord Low of Dalston and the Parliamentary Advisory Council on Transport Safety.
Melanie Ann Pustay
Director, Office of Information Policy, US Department of Justice
Melanie Ann Pustay became the Director of the Office of Information Policy of the United States Department of Justice in 2007. The Office of Information Policy is responsible for developing policy guidance for Executive Branch agencies on the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), providing legal counsel and training to agency personnel on the procedural and substantive aspects of the Act, and for overseeing agency compliance with the law.
Before becoming Director, Melanie served eight years as Deputy Director of OIP, where she was responsible for the Department’s responses to access requests made to the Department’s Senior Leadership Offices, including the Offices of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General and Associate Attorney General. Beginning in 2003 and continuing today, she has worked extensively with government officials in other countries to assist those officials in implementing their own openness-in-government initiatives.
She received the Attorney General’s Distinguished Service Award for her role in providing legal advice, guidance, and assistance on records disclosure issues. She graduated from American University’s Washington College of Law where she served on Law Review.
Oscar Mauricio Guerra Ford
INAI Commissioner, Mexico
Commissioner Oscar Mauricio Guerra Ford has both a Master’s and a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). He has over 34 years of experience as an associate professor at UNAM´s Faculty of Economics.
In 2000, Mr. Guerra was distinguished with the National University´s Award for Young Academics. From 2010 to 2011 he was President of the Mexican Conference for Access to Public Information (COMAIP). The COMAIP is the body which brought together all of Mexico´s authorities responsible of guaranteeing transparency and access to public information in the country (including those pertaining to the Federal Government).
Mr. Guerra has written several articles published by the El Universal journal and he is currently a columnist for the El Financiero newspaper. Mr. Guerra has published more than 23 articles in different books, essays, memoirs and magazines on the topics of transparency and access to public information. He also coordinated three books on these topics.
He was President Commissioner of the Institute for Access to Public Information and Data Protection of the Federal District (Mexico City), from March 2006 to May 2014.
Mr. Guerra Ford was sworn in as Commissioner of the National Institute for Transparency, Access to Information and Personal Data Protection (INAI) on May 14, 2014.
- View Oscar Mauricio Guerra Ford’s presentation in English (PDF)
- View Oscar Mauricio Guerra Ford’s presentation in Spanish (PDF)
Esperanza Zambrano Gómez
Deputy Director of Complaints, Spain
Esperanza Zambrano Gómez has a Law degree and a Master on European Union Law and on Public Management. She is member of the Spanish Public Service since 2007.
She has experience as adviser in the European Parliament Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee and in the Spanish Data Protection Authority.
Since January 2015, she is Deputy Director of Complaints in the Council of Transparency and Good Governance; body created after the Spanish Law of Transparency and Good Governance entered into force in December 2014.
Before joining the Council of Transparency and Good Governance, she was National contact point in the framework of the Open Government Partnership and was responsible of the First Spanish Action Plan on Open Government.