Tuesday, May 28, 2024

New Privacy Commissioner named

Michael Webster has been appointed New Zealand’s new Privacy Commissioner. 

Mr Webster is the current Secretary of the Cabinet. He takes up his new role as Privacy Commissioner on 5 July 2022, replacing John Edwards who left office in December 2021 to take up the appointment as the United Kingdom Information Commissioner.

“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. I am sure Mr Webster will provide the leadership required to ensure the public can be confident that their privacy rights are being protected”, said Justice Minister, Kris Faafoi.

The Privacy Commissioner’s role is to promote and oversee the thirteen information privacy principles established by the Act. These principles deal with the collection, security, use and disclosure of personal information, access to and correction of personal information, and the assignment and use of unique identifiers.

In practice, this involves the Privacy Commissioner commenting on significant personal information policies and issues, providing opinions on privacy complaints made against government and business, monitoring government data matching and promoting good personal information handling practices in New Zealand.

“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,” said Mr Faafoi.

Mr Webster has worked in the Cabinet Office, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet for the last 13 years and has been the Secretary of the Cabinet and Clerk of the Executive Council since March 2014. His former roles include City Secretary, Wellington City Council (2002 – 2008), Manager, Strategy and Performance, Department of Internal Affairs (2000 – 2002) and manager, Corporate Strategy and Planning, State Services Commission (1999 – 2000).

He holds a Master of Public Management and BA (Hons) from Victoria University of Wellington.  Michael is a graduate of the EY/Darden School of Business Programme, and the Executive Fellows Programme of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government. 

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