John Edwards named new Privacy Commissioner

Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff will be replaced by Wellington lawyer John Edwards.
Privacy Commissioner Marie Shroff will be replaced by Wellington lawyer John Edwards.

Wellington lawyer John Edwards is the new Privacy Commissioner.

He replaces Marie Shroff who has completed two five-year terms in the role, Justice Minister Judith Collins said today.

Mr Edwards is a barrister and solicitor who has been working in public law and policy for more than 20 years, and has been on the staff of the Office of the Ombudsmen, the Privacy Commissioner and the Ministry of Health.

He provides general corporate services for a number of smaller Crown agencies, and gives advice and training across the public sector on information law issues.

Mr Edwards regularly undertakes investigations and reviews for departments, Crown entities and ministers.

"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 said.

"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'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 Shroff said the task of being New Zealand's privacy watchdog had become increasingly demanding and she wished Mr Edwards well.

"The information age presents all of us with big opportunities, as well as large challenges and risks to privacy. Vast collections of information about all of us have become a new resource and commodity for both business and government."

Mr Edwards will take up the appointment in February.

- APNZ

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