John Edwards begins term as UK Information Commissioner

New UK Information Commissioner Edwards previously served eight years as New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, overseeing development and promotion of personal information protection in New Zealand.

During this time, he chaired the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (now known as the Global Privacy Assembly), and was a member of the OECD’s Informal Group of Experts on Children in the Digital Environment.

Prior to this, Edwards worked as a barrister in New Zealand, as well as occasionally filling in as an advisor to the New Zealand Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

Edwards was appointed to the role of UK Information Commissioner back in August, which was subject to approval by the Digital, Media, Culture and Sport (DMCS) select committee, before the position was vacated by Elizabeth Denham CBE in October.

Under Edwards’s leadership, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) will actively engage with the Government over proposed reforms to the Data Protection Act and introduction of the Online Safety Bill, as well as strengthening links with other digital regulators.

Additionally, the ICO aims to continue to prioritise its work to protect children online, through the Age Appropriate Design Code, which has already prompted international tech companies to make changes to better respect children’s rights online.

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“Privacy is a right not a privilege. In a world where our personal data can drive everything from the healthcare we receive to the job opportunities we see, we all deserve to have our data treated with respect,” said new UK Information Commissioner, Edwards.

“My role is to work with those to whom we entrust our data so they are able to respect our privacy with ease whilst still reaping the benefits of data-driven innovation. I also want to empower people to understand and influence how they want their data to be used, and to make it easy for people to access remedies if things go wrong.

“I know from experience that the team at the ICO are entirely dedicated to privacy and information rights, and to supporting organisations and consumers alike. The ICO has an international reputation for forward thinking and clear assessment of the practicalities of the law, which I will continue to promote. And I know too of the active data protection community in the UK – I look forward to hearing the experiences of businesses, the public sector, civil society and the privacy community.

“I welcome the opportunity to oversee the crucial Freedom of Information Act. Transparency that helps people understand and trust decisions made on their behalf has perhaps never been as relevant as across the past two years. I look forward to ensuring the law continues to be relevant in our changing world.”