NEWS – “without comment”

You can ‘go your own way’ over GDPR, says UK’s new Information Commissioner September 13, 2021

The incoming head of the UK’s data watchdog has “gone on the record” to say he will be fair and impartial in his dealings with tech companies despite once describing Facebook as “morally bankrupt pathological liars.”

John Edwards, who is currently New Zealand’s Privacy Commissioner, was responding to a now-deleted tweet he posted in the aftermath of the attack at two mosques in Christchurch in 2019 which left 51 dead and dozens more injured.

The EU… has certain legal traditions which suggest that the GDPR approach best suits that legislative and regulatory environment

The attack – which was livestreamed on Facebook and shared on social media – was described at the time by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.”

Speaking on Thursday at a hearing of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee via video link from New Zealand, he was asked about his criticism of big tech companies.

Asked by Damian Green MP whether he still felt that “tech giants are genuinely a threat to the wider democratic scrutiny and process,” he replied: “That tweet came from a very profound context of national shock and grief,” he told the committee, “[by] a very egregious terrorist act that was facilitated, amplified and propagated through that particular platform.”

Despite his own feelings, he made it clear that when he takes up the role as the UK’s Information Commissioner he will be “fair and impartial.”

Quizzed on the thorny issue of the UK’s relationship with the European Union, he was asked how the UK could make progress without “aping” what happens on the Continent.

“It’s a really important question,” said Edwards, “and I think at the core must be mutual respect. Europe is entitled to regulate for its citizens in the way that it deems most appropriate. And it has certain legal traditions which suggest that the GDPR approach best suits that legislative and regulatory environment.”

At the same, the “United Kingdom is entitled to take Fleetwood Mac’s advice and ‘Go your Own Way’,” he said, citing the soft rock supergroup, ensuring the “mutual respect of different legal and cultural traditions… lead to different expressions of the same objective.”

And for those who are simply left numb and befuddled by the whole subject of data protection, Edwards had this to say: “What I really want to do is make privacy easy. And I think I can translate that to the UK. I want to make data protection easy – easy for industry to implement at low cost, easy for consumers to exercise privacy-friendly choices in their marketplace, and easy for people to access remedies when things go wrong.” ® Full Article: