Good time to be in data protection, says information commissioner

The allegations round Cambridge Analytica and Facebook, and the dialogue it has sparked world wide, is a chance to deal with privateness, based on UK info commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

“The debates that are talking place in the US and UK about how to ensure data protection rights are in place, the data analytics investigation that is under way in our office, and the interest among international regulators are all effecting change around the world,” she instructed the IAPP Data Protection Intensive convention in London.

Denham mentioned she additionally senses a shift within the posture of business as regards privateness regulation within the US. “It is clear to everyone that data protection is essential for our democracy,” she mentioned, mentioning that this was the rationale the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had launched its investigation into the usage of private knowledge and knowledge analytics in political campaigns.

“The Cambridge Analytica-Facebook allegations are only one line of inquiry in our investigation, but of course it was heightened in February with whistleblowers and witnesses coming forward,” she mentioned. “In all, we are looking at 30 organisations – social media platforms, data companies, campaigns and political parties – to pull back the curtain on the use of personal data in modern political campaigns.”

Denham mentioned the investigation report will describe the realities of data-driven political campaigning and look at issues similar to whether or not the principles are clear and the way private knowledge use is enabling the micro-targeting of adverts and campaigns, in addition to what public coverage adjustments the ICO recommends.

“Speculation is rife, but our investigation will be thorough, independent and focused and we will make our findings and conclusions public,” she mentioned. “If we find that the law has been broken, we will take the necessary enforcement action.”

Turning to the ICO’s regulatory powers, Denham mentioned that as a regulator, the ICO investigates methods “in situ” to see how private knowledge is definitely getting used and managed.

“The unique nature of modern data protection regulation is that our role involves understanding the effect of algorithms and analytics,” she mentioned. “We have to look for inter-relatedness between data sets and the effect they have on decisions. We may need to see these effects in short time periods in the context of a fast-moving investigation.”

Under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Denham mentioned the ICO may have the facility to audit all those that maintain, use and share private knowledge.

“But, in the context of this particular investigation, the GDPR audit power is already being outpaced by technological advances in data analytics,” she mentioned. “I wish to see this addressed.

“I am in intense consultation with government, to ensure that, as part of the Data Protection Bill, the ICO has the ability to move more quickly to obtain the information we need to carry out our investigations in the public interest.”

The ICO must respect the rights of firms, mentioned Denham, nevertheless it additionally wants streamlined warrant processes with a decrease threshold that at current.

“We need the regime to reflect the reality that data crimes are real crimes,” she mentioned. “As society moves increasingly online, data protection law needs to have the comprehensive reach that people would expect of laws in the physical world.”

According to Denham, the ICO is gearing as much as be a “relevant, future-focused regulator”, however as soon as GDPR compliance turns into necessary in “only 27 working days”, the ICO is anticipating extra breach stories, extra complaints and larger engagement with organisations as they flip to it for recommendation, she mentioned.

To put together for this, Denham mentioned she is strengthening her group in each numbers and experience, which has been enabled partially by a brand new funding mannequin agreed by parliament, taking the ICO’s present finances of £24m a yr to £38n in 2018/2019.

“We are recruiting all levels of staff, including 10 newly created director roles, across the UK —at our offices in Edinburgh, Cardiff, Belfast and London as well as Wilmslow – to give us the capacity, capability and resilience to tackle our developing regulatory brief,” she mentioned. The present ICO headcount of 520 is count on to extend to 700 by 2020, she added.

The ICO has recognized three areas of focus – cyber safety, synthetic intelligence and system monitoring, mentioned Denham. “These three areas will inform our guidance, our proactive work, our investigations, audits and advisory services,” she mentioned.

Denham took the chance to spotlight the ICO’s deliberate “regulatory sandbox” for organisations to beta take a look at initiatives, supporting progressive digital services, whereas making certain that the correct safeguards are in place.

“We intend to focus on AI applications and will launch the programme in 2019 after this year’s consultation,” she mentioned.

“This technology strategy is based on the strong belief that privacy and innovation go hand and hand. It also allows us to develop our own skills, recruiting and retaining technology expertise and establishing partnerships on tech issues with outside experts, other regulators and international networks.”

Bring in new expertise

Denham additionally talked about the ICO’s secondment programme, which goals to herald new expertise within the type of authorized employees, auditors and worldwide liaison specialists.

Turning to the topic of fines below the GDPR, Denham mentioned she has no intention of fixing the ICO’s proportionate and pragmatic method after 25 May.

“My aim is to prevent harm, and to place support and compliance at the heart of our regulatory action,” she mentioned. “Voluntary compliance is the popular route.

“But we are going to again this up by robust motion the place mandatory. Hefty fines can, and can, be levied on these organisations that persistently, intentionally or negligently flout the regulation.

“Report to us, interact with us. Show us efficient accountability measures. Doing so will probably be an element after we contemplate any regulatory motion.

“And we now have a whole new set of tools to compliance: privacy by default and design, data protection impact assessments, accountability mechanisms, data protection officers. All these things, and more, form an integrated package.”

Further increasing on the subject of fines, Denham mentioned that when the ICS wants to use a sanction, fines is not going to at all times be essentially the most applicable or efficient alternative.

“Compulsory data protection audits, warnings, reprimands, enforcement notices and stop processing orders are often more appropriate tools,” she mentioned.

“None of these will require an organisation to write a cheque to the Treasury, but they will have a significant impact on reputation and, ultimately, companies’ bottom line.”

Another key level concerning the GDPR, mentioned Denham, is that organisations is not going to must report each single private knowledge breach to the ICO.

“But where you do need to report, we have made the reporting process simple and effective,” she mentioned, including that the ICO has applied a telephone-based breach reporting service that may deal with 30,00zero stories a yr.

“Call our breach reporting line and you’ll get a human response,” she mentioned. “Our focus will probably be on figuring out whether or not your breach is a reportable one, working with you and calling in whoever else we have to contain, that can assist you make the correct selections in these key first few days.

“We have built a dedicated team to deal with data breach reporting and we will be extending the hours of the office to manage reporting under the GDPR and NIS directive.”

The Brexit impact

On the subject of Brexit, the impression of the referendum end result on 23 June 2016 has occupied a lot of Denham’s time since taking on her function. “As commissioner, one of my important jobs is to objectively advise government and parliament on law reform that ensures high standards of data protection for UK citizens and consumers, wherever their data resides, uninterrupted data flows to Europe and the rest of the world, and legal certainty for business and law enforcement,” she mentioned.

“Government has explicitly said it values data protection as fundamental to the digital economy and security cooperation. Data protection is a priority area for the Brexit settlement.”

The ICO is at the moment taking part in a full function in EU establishments, and is “fully immersed” in creating steering for the GDPR, she mentioned. “But we are also preparing for the post-Brexit environment in order to ensure that the information rights of UK citizens are not adversely affected.”

Denham added that “unfortunately”, essentially the most important “unknown” is the precise nature of the ICO’s future relationship with knowledge safety authorities throughout Europe.

“During two recent speeches, the prime minister has made the case for an ongoing role for the ICO – whether that’s a seat on the European Data Protection Board with voting rights or some other form of relationship, the government and the EU can decide,” she mentioned.

“The ICO is deeply committed and embedded in the EU regulatory community. And that is the message I’ve been giving to parliamentarians when giving evidence to committees looking at the implications of Brexit.”

The UK authorities has made good on its commitments to totally implement the GDPR and clearly appreciates the significance of excessive requirements of knowledge safety, mentioned Denham.

“I think the government should be commended for their commitment and effort in this regard. And, through our expert advice to the government, and our strong engagement with the Article 29 Working Party, we are striving to ensure that the priorities I identified become reality,” she mentioned.

Increasing the general public’s belief and confidence in the best way their knowledge is dealt with is a really excessive precedence for all privateness professionals, mentioned Denham.

“I think the recent revelations in the media have fired up the data protection debate,” she mentioned. “And so they should. Across the world, people are beginning to wake up to the importance of personal data, and it is up to us – as regulator and those striving to comply with the law – to keep that fire burning. If we fearlessly and tirelessly apply the principles that the ICO and the IAPP hold dear, we can build people’s trust and confidence, because their data matters.”

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Publish Date: 2018-04-18 13:00:00

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