Home News Alert system to enhance cross-border privacy enforcement supported by the ICO

Alert system to enhance cross-border privacy enforcement supported by the ICO

by Brian Sims
Christopher Graham: the UK's Information Commissioner

Christopher Graham: the UK’s Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has signed an agreement to be part of a new technical solution for international agencies involved in privacy enforcement: the GPEN Alert.

The GPEN Alert is intended to be a secure and confidential information sharing tool for Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) members.

The enforcement co-operation between the ICO and others can take a variety of forms, but until now it has proven challenging because it has been almost impossible to share information between authorities. Authorities need to ensure that any transfer is legally made, applying appropriate safeguards to protect the information being transferred. This means in particular that the information must be sent in a confidential and secure manner.

Initially, participating privacy enforcement authorities may use GPEN Alert to notify other member authorities of their privacy investigations and enforcement actions, and specifically those that have cross-border aspects, for the purposes of potential co-ordination or co-operation.

The Alert allows participating authorities to find out what other GPEN members are investigating or what taking enforcement action is being taken against the same company, person or practices.

Information in the Alert system may be contributed and accessed only by GPEN member authorities that have signed a Memorandum of Understanding and whose relevant staff have appropriate security credentials. Currently, it doesn’t allow for the sharing of detailed confidential, non-public enforcement matters, and nor does it allow the sharing of consumer complaints relating to privacy.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said: “It’s clear that organisations’ use of data is becoming ever more complicated and ever more international in scope. People need to know privacy authorities around the globe are watching over their information, and that policing of the rules doesn’t stop at a country’s border. The launch of the GPEN Alert is an important practical step in achieving that, building on the international co-operation the GPEN network has developed. By providing a secure and confidential system, we hope it will prove a key tool in the future.”

The alert uses the existing Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) platform operated by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The GPEN Alert is separate from the rest of the CSN platform.

*More information about GPEN is available at www.privacyenforcement.net

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