Making his first speech as Information Commissioner at the IAPP Data Protection Intensive conference, John Edwards addressed an audience of around 600 participants in London. Having met with organisations throughout the UK as part of a listening exercise, Mr Edwards said, "what I've been hearing is that you're concerned about change. You spent 2017 and 2018 preparing your organisations for the arrival of GDPR. You spent 2019 adapting to the new law." He then went on to say, "I know that you're concerned about the transaction cost of a new law. Nervous that a new law may imperil adequacy or prompt regulatory diversion with our neighbours and trading partners." It was from this perspective Mr Edwards warned the Government against weakening privacy rights, saying that a "deep legal and cultural commitment to protect fundamental rights informs what comes next for us in the UK. I see the opportunities for the UK to shape its own laws, and see a desire in Government to promote innovation. I understand the entirely sensible goal of enabling business and Government to derive a digital dividend, and extract value from data. But all of this will be built upon a foundation that prioritises privacy. That cultural value of privacy has been reflected as I've met with organisations across the UK."
A video of Mr Edwards was posted on Twitter via @ICONews recorded shortly after his speech at the IAPP Data Protection Intensive conference. The ICO has also published the full transcript of the speech and five short videos following the listening exercise.
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