John Edwards, the head of the UK’s data protection agency, believes leaving the EU gives Britain an advantage in fighting against data breaches.

In an interview with Politico before a critical privacy conference in London on Wednesday, Edwards challenged the suggestion to muzzle his agency in the country’s attempt to support tech innovation.

Edwards, who was New Zealand’s privacy commissioner before joining the Information Commissioner’s Office in the United Kingdom in January, said leaving the EU provided his office an advantage in policing the digital economy.

The European Union’s approach has been criticized as cumbersome and bureaucratic, with EU authorities regularly weighing in on cases involving tech corporations.

Now, the UK is changing data protection regulations, raising concerns among privacy advocates that the country is jeopardizing rights in the name of economic growth.

However, Edwards stated that ICO would continue to work with its European counterparts, specifically mentioning a planned agreement with Ireland’s Data Protection Commission.

Edwards also expressed fears that data reforms will damage the country’s reputation as a safe place for Europeans’ data.

Privacy protection

The UK must maintain privacy protection standards similar to the EU’s 27 member states. Edwards stated he had “assured” the government his office could not be influenced in response to his fears.

He said the UK management realized every alteration that resulted in the country losing its EU data flow independence would have to “clearly offset” the cost of ending their agreements.

However, there are concerns that the UK’s proposals, including eliminating human review of AI decisions and placing the ICO under stronger government authority, could jeopardize the accord.

John Edwards’s Stance on Privacy Rights

“I am confident that ministers and bureaucrats are familiar with the issues, and I believe we are collaborating productively with them to ensure that the policy objectives are realized in ways that do not jeopardize adequacy or compromise the office’s independence,” John Edwards stated. 

He further promised to preserve his carefree social media presence despite accusations that it was causing alarm among his senior colleagues.