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ICO outlines international strategy as Brexit and GDPR challenges loom

Neil Merrett Published 04 July 2017

New plan devised to learn from global developments in data protection and technology in order to complement broader work on improving public confidence in sharing information


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has set out a new five year international strategy to tackle global changes in technology, business and data protection policy as the UK braces for Brexit.

Intended to better safeguard the privacy of UK citizens, the new strategy will include broader commitments to learn best practice from around the word in handling data, as well as seeking further transparency in areas such as the provision of outsourced public services.

Information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said that while there were challenging times ahead with regard to data protection, the UK was nonetheless well placed to adapt.

“We have a powerful voice and it is heard around the world, but we are excellent listeners too. That is our strength,” she added.

“This blueprint for how we’ll deliver on our international objectives was informed by experts from all over the world who challenged our perceived priorities and advised on what our next steps should be.”

With the incoming European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becoming UK law from May 2018, the strategy’s key aims will include ensuring the country is an effective and influential data protection authority at European level both before and after the Brexit process.

It also seeks to improve the relevance of the UK data regulator in an increasingly globalised world and ensure the country can be an international leader for benchmarking high levels of protection laws.

The ICO is also committed to address legal protection uncertainty when transferring information to and from Europe, such as the ongoing legal challenges relating to the US-EU Privacy Shield arrangement.

As part of the European Commission's Article 29 Working Party of European data regulators, the ICO said it is committed to sharing information with other independent bodies to support enforcement and promotion of freedom of information (foI) law.  This focus would also include supporting common FoI standards.

The strategy document also pledged to back a conference for European information commissioner bodies for collaboration on common interest topics including improved transparency of outsourced public service agreements.

The publication of the international strategy is designed to complement the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan that aims to improve public trust and confidence in data sharing and usage. This will focus on relevant guidance that can be updated to address emerging technologies and new standards both in the UK and at a wider global level.

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