Alert to help cross border privacy enforcement

27 Oct 2015 12:51 PM

The ICO has yesterday signed an agreement to be part of a new technical solution for international agencies involved in privacy enforcement, the GPEN Alert.

The GPEN Alert is intended to be a secure and confidential information sharing tool for Global Privacy Enforcement Network (GPEN) members.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said yesterday:

“It is clear that organisations’ use of data is getting ever more complicated, and ever more international.

“People need to know privacy authorities around the globe are watching over their information, and that policing of the rules doesn’t stop at a country’s border.

"The launch of the GPEN Alert today is an important practical step in achieving that, building on the international cooperation the GPEN network has developed. By providing a secure and confidential system, we hope it will prove a key tool in the future.”

The enforcement cooperation between the ICO and others can take a variety of forms; but until now it has proven challenging because it has been almost impossible to share information between authorities. Authorities need to ensure that any transfer is legally made, applying appropriate safeguards to protect the information being transferred. This means in particular that the information must be sent in a confidential and secure manner.

Initially, participating privacy enforcement authorities may use GPEN Alert to notify other member authorities of their privacy investigations and enforcement actions, specifically those that have cross-border aspects, for purposes of potential coordination or cooperation.

The Alert allows participating authorities to find out what other GPEN members are investigating or taking enforcement action against the same company, person or practices.

Information in the Alert system may be contributed and accessed only by GPEN member authorities that have signed a memorandum of understanding and whose relevant staff have appropriate security credentials. It does not currently allow sharing of detailed confidential, non-public enforcement matters, nor does it allow the sharing of consumer complaints relating to privacy.

The alert uses the existing Consumer Sentinel Network (CSN) platform operated by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The GPEN Alert is separate from the rest of the CSN platform.

More information about GPEN is available at