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

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

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

Related Posts