John Edwards appears before House of Commons Committee on DPDI No.2 Bill

10/05/2023 | UK Parliament

On Wednesday, 10 May, Information Commissioner John Edwards appeared before Parliament to give evidence to the House of Commons committee scrutinising the Data Protection and Digital Information (No.2) Bill (DPDIB). Mr Edwards was accompanied by Paul Arnold, Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Operating Officer at the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Watch the recorded session on (main link) or read the transcript of what was said on the Hansard report during the first sitting. 

Among the issues discussed, Mr Edwards was asked for his opinion on the provision within the DPDIB to modernise the ICO into a new body, the Information Commission, and whether it will impact its ability to act independently of political direction.

Mr Edwards' response indicated that the ICO in its current form is struggling to cope and would benefit from the support of a board structure. As a result, short-term disruption will occur during the transition, for instance, while recruiting the chief executive and implementing the relevant organisational structures. In terms of being able to act independently, Mr Edwards said, "I do not believe it will undermine our independence at all. What I think it will do is to further enhance and promote our accountability, which is very important."

On the subject of whether the DPDIB might put at risk the UK’s data adequacy from the EU, Mr Edwards responded, "I do not believe there is anything in the Bill that would put at risk the adequacy determination with the European Union. The test the Commission applies is whether the law is essentially equivalent... The importance of an independent regulator is preserved in this legislation. All the essential features of the UK GDPR or the rights that citizens of the European Union enjoy are present in the Bill, so I do not believe that there is a realistic prospect of the Commission reviewing negatively the adequacy determination."

During the hearing, Mr Edwards also responded to questions concerning enforcement, vexatious and excessive subject access requests, automated decision-making, legitimate interests, and the use of inferred data.

In a Twitter thread, Mr Edwards recorded a short video commenting on his appearance at the House of Commons. 

The Hansard report for the parliamentary public committee hearing second sitting is available here.  

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Westminster, Politics, UK Flag, blog

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