Information Commissioner John Edwards delivered the opening speech at the ICO Data Protection Practitioners' Conference 2022.
John Edwards opened his keynote speech by talking about how his 30-year career in information law led him to be speaking to a group of his "own people" as the UK Information Commissioner. The speech covered the government's Data Protection and Digital Information Bill introduced in parliament on Monday, the recently published ICO25 3-year strategic plan, and why he feels data protection practitioners have never been more important.
On the reforms, Mr Edwards (always keen to shoehorn a Fleetwood Mac reference such as going our own way) remarked that the "GDPR is not beyond improvement" and that while the reforms require finessing, they "strike a good balance in making improvements. The Bill reflects an understanding that there are areas of red tape for business that can be reduced, while acknowledging the value of protections that give people confidence to use the products and services that power the economy and society."
On the strategic plan, Mr Edwards reiterated his belief that the role of the ICO should be to empower people and organisations to use and share information responsibly. He also responded to calls from the community to engage with the DPO community more through initiatives like the networking aspect added to this year's conference and the cross-Whitehall Senior Leadership Group.
Addressing data protection professionals, Mr Edwards stated how the changing legal requirement for DPOs will not make the role less important, saying: "Understanding data protection remains a fundamental part of any modern organisation. Understanding not only what the law says, but also what that means in practice, and how it relates to your customers, staff and stakeholders, remains a specialist job."
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