Information Commissioner's Office
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ICO publishes International Strategy to help protect UK public’s personal information in a global environment

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.

Ms 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.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. 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. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  5. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications. There are specific rules on:
    • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
    • cookies (and similar technologies);
    • keeping communications services secure; and
    • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.

  1. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  2. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  3. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.
  4. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law that will replace the Data Protection Act 1998 and will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The government has confirmed that the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.

 

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