The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) appears to be strengthening its focus on technology after announcing the creation of a dedicated, tech-focused management role.
Simon McDougall will assume the newly created role of Executive Director for Technology Policy and Innovation. McDougall joins the ICO from risk management specialists, Promontory, where he acted as Managing Director.
Having previously worked at Deloitte, McDougall commands a reputation as a specialist in assisting organisations with privacy and data protection programmes.
Developing a Tech Focus
McDougall will lead the ICO in developing a number of new, technology-focused approaches to the office’s work, as well as promoting and ensuring information rights.
McDougall said: “I am honoured to have the opportunity to join the ICO and lead their work in this critical area. Technological change continues to accelerate, and it is vital that the ICO remains constructively and robustly engaged as organisations innovate in the use of personal data.”
For ICO, this appointment represents an ongoing commitment to the acknowledgement and adoption of new technology as part of the regulator’s operations. It has recently published the first-ever technology strategy and has laid out a number of key goals over the next several years.
Strategy for Change
The Technology Strategy outlines how the ICO will adapt to technological change and how the regulator will plan ahead for the arrival of new technology. Artificial intelligence (AI) is an area of particular focus for ICO, representing of its three top priorities for 2018/19.
This includes a new Technology Fellowship programme, with a two-year post-doctoral appointment to investigate and research the impact of AI on data privacy. The ICO has also set in motion plans for a regulatory ‘sandbox’, aimed at enabling organisations to develop “innovative products and services while benefitting from advice and support” – the regulator says it intends to consult on the implementation of this later in 2018.
Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, said: “We have ambitious plans for our work in the crucial area of technology, and also to ensure we are an innovative regulator, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.”
Denham added: “As a globally respected figure in the world of privacy and innovation, Simon is a great fit for this new role, which will strengthen our expertise and responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities.”