Data and securityData ProtectionICO strengthens technology and innovation focus

ICO strengthens technology and innovation focus

New Executive Director for Technology Policy and Innovation appointed

The Information Commissioner’s Office has further bolstered its commitment to encouraging new ideas and emerging technologies, while protecting people’s privacy, by appointing a new Executive Director for Technology Policy and Innovation.

Simon McDougall will lead new approaches to information rights practice and will oversee the promotion of the legally compliant processing of personal data as a core element of new technologies and business systems.

McDougall is currently MD of Promontory – a risk management and regulatory compliance consulting firm acquired in 2016 by IBM, where he founded and led a global privacy practice. He has extensive experience of working across a wide range of sectors and jurisdictions on privacy, compliance, digital initiatives and innovation.

He is a well-known international figure in the world of information rights, serving on the Board of Directors and the European Advisory Board at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) along with many other consultative and advisory groups.

Commenting on his appointment, McDougall said: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to join the ICO and lead their work in this critical area. Technological change continues to accelerate, and it is vital that the ICO remains constructively and robustly engaged as organisations innovate in the use of personal data.”

Technology is a key area for the ICO, as demonstrated by:

  • The publication of its first Technology Strategy, outlining how the ICO will adapt to technological change as it impacts information rights and how it’ll plan ahead for the arrival of new technologies. It explains its eight technology goals and how it intends to achieve them.
  • Making artificial intelligence (AI) one of its top three priorities for 2018/19. This includes a new Technology Fellowship programme with a two-year post-doctoral appointment to investigate and research the impact of AI on data privacy. The ICO’s updated, award winning paper on AI, Big Data and Machine Learning has been key in highlighting many of the issues and challenges facing society.
  • Plans for a regulatory ‘sandbox’ to enable organisations to develop innovative products and services while benefitting from advice and support from the ICO. The organisation intends to consult on this implementation later this year.
  • Adding cyber incidents as a sixth strategic goal in the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said: “We have ambitious plans for our work in the crucial area of technology and also to ensure we are an innovative regulator, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“As a globally respected figure in the world of privacy and innovation, Simon is a great fit for this new role, which will strengthen our expertise and responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities.”

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