ICO documents four-year international strategy

The ICO has published its first ever International Strategy to help it meet overseas data protection challenges including increased globalism, changing technology, GDPR and Brexit.

The strategy aims to enhance privacy protection for the UK public, no matter where in the world potential threats and risks emanate from. It also commits the ICO to learning about new ideas and developments emerging from other countries.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said: “There is little doubt that there are challenging times ahead but we are well placed to tackle them. We have a powerful voice and it is heard around the world, but we are excellent listeners too. That is our strength.

“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.”

The strategy sets out what the ICO sees as its main international concerns over the next four years:

  • To operate as an effective and influential data protection authority at 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 an increasingly globalised world with rapid growth of online technologies.
  • 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 to and from the EU, and beyond, including adequacy.

Denham added: “These challenges, they are opportunities. A chance to give people back control of their own data. It all comes back to consumers. Citizens. People.”

As well as 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 at home and abroad.

The strategy runs until 2021. However, recognising that the ICO needs to be agile in an ever-changing world, it will be regularly reviewed and updated in response to new challenges and opportunities.

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