Aotearoa gets a new Privacy Commissioner: Michael Webster replaces John Edwards
Justice Minister Kris Faafoi has today announced the appointment of the new Privacy Commissioner.
Michael Webster, who is currently the Secretary of the Cabinet, will step into the Privacy Commissioner role on 5 July 2022. He replaces John Edwards, who left office in December 2021. Edwards has now taken a post as the United Kingdom Information Commissioner.
With significant changes to privacy laws and regulations worldwide during the last few years, Webster will be responsible for continuing to promote and oversee the 13 information privacy principles established by the Privacy Act.
This will involve overseeing principles relating to the collection, security, use and disclosure of personal information, as well as access to and correction of personal information and the assignment and use of unique identifiers.
“Our reforms in 2020 reflected the vital importance of the protections in the Privacy Act, which ensure people’s personal information is properly safeguarded in our digital age,” remarked Minister Faafoi in a Beehive announcement.
A key part of the role will also be continuing to comment on significant personal information policies and issues. Webster will provide opinions on privacy complaints made against government and business, monitor government data matching and promote good personal information handling practices in New Zealand.
Webster has a long history of public service, with expertise in internal affairs, corporate strategy and planning. He has worked in both council and cabinet roles, having been the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council since March 2014.
He holds a Master of Public Management and BA (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington and is a graduate of the EY/Darden School of Business Programme. He is also a graduate of the Executive Fellows Programme of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government.
“Mr Webster’s career has to date focused on enabling and driving good governance, the promotion of democratic rights and values, the development and application of codes of conduct and behaviour, and working to ensure compliance with both statutory provisions and constitutional conventions,” remarked Minister Faafoi.
“I am sure Mr Webster will provide the leadership required to ensure the public can be confident that their privacy rights are being protected.”
The Office of the Privacy Commissioner New Zealand says on their website that they work to develop and promote a culture in which personal information is protected and respected. They oversee most things to do with data privacy in Aotearoa. The Office is an independent Crown Entity and was set up in 1993 in line with the Privacy Act.