Insights Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham blogs about the ICO’s plan of work for 2021

Ms Denham said that the ICO’s immediate focus remains supporting organisations through the impacts of COVID 19. Ms Denham said that the ICO has prioritised providing advice and support on data protection related aspects of the pandemic since the start, and will continue to do so, adjusting and responding to the new challenges the country will face until “all this is finished”. That work includes protecting people’s rights, and making sure data protection is considered at the earliest stage of any innovations.

Ms Denham noted that last year the ICO published a range of guidance to support organisations, covering topics including AI, data sharing and accountability, “all demonstrating how good data protection enables innovation and economic growth”, she said. The ICO also acted to protect people’s information rights, from its FOI self-assessment toolkit to reports on police use of mobile phone extraction and credit reference agencies use of personal data. “And when companies got it wrong, we acted proportionately”, Ms Denham said.

Ms Denham anticipates that this year will be “similarly busy”.

The Age Appropriate Design Code will start “to have a real impact”, as the transition period around its introduction comes to an end, and the ICO “will be working hard to support organisations to make the necessary changes to comply with the law”.

The ICO will also be focusing on supporting organisations around data sharing, following the publication of its guidance last month. The guidance is accompanied by practical resources to help organisations share data in line with the law. The ICO “will also be supporting broader work to encourage the necessary culture change to remove obstacles to data sharing”.

Other support for organisations planned for this year includes guidance on political campaigning, facial recognition, and codes of conduct and certification schemes, as well as a digital version of the ICO’s Data Protection Practitioners’ Conference in April 2021. The latest phases of the ICO’s grants scheme (see item above) and sandbox programme will also continue.

The ICO’s operational work will also continue, including the latest phases of its work looking at data broking, the use of sexual crime victims’ personal information, and adtech, including audits focused on digital marketing platforms. To read the blog in full, click here.