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Edwards is new Privacy Commissioner

Chris Keall
Tue, 10 Dec 2013

Wellington lawyer and commentator John Edwards has been named New Zealand's third Privacy Commissioner.

He steps into the post formerly occupied by Sir Bruce Slane and the retiring Marie Shroff.

The cyber-savvy Mr Edwards - an outspoken blogger on everything from Keith Ng's expose of MSD security vulnerabilities to torture in Fiji - has so far in his career been a far more front-foot advocate for various privacy-related causes than Sir Bruce or Ms Shroff.

Mr Edwards tells NBR he will wrap up his practice as a barrister and solicitor over summer, and begin his new role in February.

The rold will be familiar territory for the lawyer.

Mr Edwards has previously been on the staff of the Office of the Ombudsmen, the Privacy Commissioner and the Ministry of Health.

In his current practice, he provides general corporate services for a number of smaller Crown agencies, and provides advice and training across the public sector on information law issues, and regularly undertakes investigations and reviews for departments, Crown entities and Ministers.

On his Twitter profile, Mr Edwards says, "I do Information Law - a category I made up. It means privacy, freedom of information, copyright, social media, and other stuff too."

Fittingly, given his active presence on the medium, he announced his new role via a tweet.


RAW DATA: Justice Minister Judith Collins' statement

New Privacy Commissioner appointed

Justice Minister Judith Collins has announced Wellington lawyer John Edwards as the new Privacy Commissioner.

Mr Edwards will replace Ms Marie Shroff, CNZM, CVO who has completed two five year terms in the role.

“Mr Edwards’ public and private sector experience gives him a highly informed perspective on data privacy and data matching issues. He is an acknowledged privacy expert and has a broad, practical understanding of the Privacy Act,” Ms Collins says.

“I am confident Mr Edwards will be highly credible in the role of the Commissioner and will be able to engage both the public and private sectors.”

The Privacy Commissioner administers the Privacy Act 1993. The Act sets out 12 privacy principles that guide how personal information can be collected, used, stored and disclosed.

The Privacy Commissioner's Office has a wide range of functions including – investigating complaints about breaches of privacy, running education programmes, and examining proposed legislation and how it may affect individual privacy.

Ms Collins acknowledges the outstanding service Ms Shroff has given in the position of Privacy Commissioner over the past decade.

Mr Edwards will take up appointment in February 2014.

Chris Keall
Tue, 10 Dec 2013
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Edwards is new Privacy Commissioner