Given David Smith’s impending retirement, it won't be too long before we learn the identity of his replacement.
And what will we expect from this appointment?
Hopefully, his replacement will be a robust individual who has plenty of practical experience with data protection issues. They really need to get to know their way around the privacy field quickly. It takes time to become fully acquainted with the more arcane and esoteric aspects of data protection law, and there will be plenty of snotty data professionals who will only be too keen to trip up the newbie by trumping their own knowledge of dp gumpf.
Since 1984, the data protection community has developed an obscure language, shrouding what ought to be reasonably simple terms in incredibly complex jargon. Will the new incumbent know the difference between explicit and unambiguous consent? (Do many people care greatly about the difference between the two?) Will the incumbent know how to explain the difference between a Privacy Impact Assessment and a privacy audit? How will the incumbent explain to an incoming Information Commissioner what it is that the new Commissioner will be expected to be talking about?
And, just as importantly, how will the new incumbent deal with the constant heckling from a tiny band of tweeters whose sole purpose in life appears be to comment on just how awful and ineffective the ICO is?
But that's only what the regulated will expect of the new incumbent.
Those actually working at the ICO will be seeking someone with additional skills. Someone whose management skills are such that things get done. Someone who ensures that people who expect to be paid fairly are put in their place. And someone who can raise the internal staff satisfaction scores to an acceptable level. In short, someone who will be an effective member of the Executive Team.
Soon, both the regulated and the staff will know who this person is.
Good luck to them.