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ICO consults health organisations to shape thinking on privacy-enhancing technologies

The ICO is inviting organisations in the health sector to participate in workshops on privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs).

We want to set out how PETs can facilitate safe, legal and valuable data sharing in health and understand what’s needed to help organisations use these technologies. The information gathered from the workshops will help the ICO develop updated guidance and advice.

Privacy-enhancing technologies refer to a broad range of processes and approaches for protecting personal data. PETs help organisations to implement and improve data protection by design. This could be through traditional methods such as encryption, or more advanced solutions.

But adoption of PETs is low.

Stephen Almond, Director of Technology and Innovation at the ICO, said:

“Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) help organisations build trust and unlock the potential of data by putting data protection by design into practice.

“The healthcare sector handles highly sensitive data that could lead to life-changing, life-saving innovations. Yet organisations are not tapping into the benefits of PETs and we want to find out how to help them adopt these emerging technologies.”

The workshops form part of a project called PETs for Public Good, which is funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) through the Regulators’ Pioneer Fund. The workshops will set challenging data sharing scenarios and will test PETs in new ways.

The workshops welcome people from both the private and public sectors and in particular from:

  • health organisations and health technology start-ups that aren’t using PETs yet;
  • health or care organisations already using PETs;
  • academic experts and researchers in this field;
  • suppliers of PETs; and
  • legal and data protection experts.

We are working with Plexal, an innovation company, to facilitate this discussion. Interested organisations can sign up through this link from today (2 February 2022) until 14 February. They can also contact Plexal on for more information.

The ICO will use the conclusions of the workshops to outline solutions and roadmaps which enable safe and lawful data sharing in sectors beyond healthcare. The project will also inform updated ICO guidance to help organisations adopt PETs for safe, lawful, economically valuable data sharing.

Notes to Editors

  • The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. It has its head office in Wilmslow, Cheshire, and regional offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast.
  • The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR), Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR) and a further five Acts / Regulations.
  • The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to
  • This project has been made possible by a grant from the £3.7 million Regulators' Pioneer Fund launched by The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
  • The fund enables UK regulators and local authorities to help create a UK regulatory environment that unleashes innovation and makes the UK the best place to start and grow a business.
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