The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has published its first-ever International Strategy document to help the organisation meet overseas data protection challenges, including those posed by increased globalism, changing technology, the EU’s forthcoming General Data Protection Regulation and Brexit.
The detailed strategy aims to enhance privacy protection for members of the public here in the UK, no matter from where in the world potential threats and risks might emanate. The document also commits the ICO to learning about new ideas and developments emerging from other countries.
Commenting on this development, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “There’s little doubt that there are challenging times ahead, but we’re well placed to tackle them. We have a powerful voice and it’s heard around the world. We are also excellent listeners. That’s our strength.”
Denham continued: “This blueprint for how we’ll deliver on our international objectives has been informed and underpinned by comments from experts from all over the world who challenged our perceived priorities and advised on what our next steps should be.”
Major international concerns
The ICO’s strategy sets out what the organisation sees as its main international concerns over the next four years:
*To operate as an effective and influential data protection authority at a European level while the UK remains a member of the EU and when the UK has left the EU (or during any transitional period)
*Maximising the ICO’s relevance and delivery against its objectives in what’s now an increasingly globalised world with the rapid growth of online technologies as its backdrop
*Ensuring that UK data protection law and practice is a benchmark for high global standards
*Addressing the uncertainty of the legal protections for international data flows both to and from the EU (and beyond), including adequacy
Denham added: “These challenges are opportunities. A chance to give people back control of their own data. It all comes back to consumers. The citizens.”
In addition to setting out priority actions and strategies for meeting the challenges identified, the document also states how the ICO’s internal structure and resourcing will reflect an enhanced global dimension.
The International Strategy complements the key goals of the ICO’s new Information Rights Strategic Plan, which include increasing the public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and shared, remaining relevant by keeping abreast of evolving technology and improving standards through clear and targeted engagement and influence, both here on home shores and abroad.
The ICO’s strategy runs until 2021. However, recognising that the organisation needs to be agile in an ever-changing world, the document will be regularly reviewed and updated in response to any new challenges and opportunities.