John Edwards has officially commenced his new role as UK Information Commissioner,  as he emphasised that ‘privacy is not a privilege’. 

Joining on a five year term, Edwards previously spent eight years as New Zealand Privacy Commissioner, and before that worked as a barrister.

Commenting on his new role, he stated: “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.

“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.”

Citing a need for transparency in order to maintain public understanding and trust on matters relating to information and data, Edwards further stated that he welcomed the opportunity to oversee the continued implementation of the Freedom of Information Act. 

 The new appointment comes as the ICO will be actively engaging with the government over the proposed reforms to the Data Protection Act and introduction of the Online Safety Bill, as well as strengthening links with other digital regulators.