26 Aug 2021

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards announced as preference to be UK information commissioner

8:06 pm on 26 August 2021

The United Kingdom is looking to poach New Zealand's Privacy Commissioner.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards. Photo: Supplied / Office of the Privacy Commissioner

John Edwards has been announced as the preferred candidate for the role of the UK's Information Commissioner.

A statement from the Privacy Commission today said "While this consideration reflects the expertise of the commissioner, it also reflects the work of the strong and stable team within the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the results they have achieved for privacy in New Zealand.

This announcement is the first of a series of steps to be taken by the UK Parliament, and no decision will be made until the completion of the process, expected within a few weeks.

"We respect the process being followed, and it would be inappropriate to make further comment while this process is ongoing."

However, comments from the UK government and Edwards make it seem like a done deal.

The UK government said Edwards had been announced "following a global search".

"As Information Commissioner and head of the UK regulator responsible for enforcing data protection law, he will be empowered to go beyond the regulator's traditional role of focusing only on protecting data rights, with a clear mandate to take a balanced approach that promotes further innovation and economic growth...

"Edwards will now appear before MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee for pre-appointment scrutiny on 9th September 2021."

Edwards, in comments released by the UK government, said "It is a great honour and responsibility to be considered for appointment to this key role as a watchdog for the information rights of the people of the United Kingdom... I look forward to the challenge of steering the organisation and the British economy into a position of international leadership in the safe and trusted use of data for the benefit of all."

Edwards was appointed to the role of NZ privacy commissioner in 2014.

Previously, he worked as a lawyer for over 20 years and acted in legal roles for the Ministry of Health, State Services Commission, Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet and Inland Revenue Department, according to his Privacy Commission profile.