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ICO’s International Strategy

ICO’s International Strategy: Helping protect UK public’s personal information in a global environment


Last month the ICO published an International Strategy, designed to help it meet global data protection challenges. This includes GDPR, Brexit, changing technology, and increased globalism.

The chief aim of the strategy is to strengthen privacy and protection for the UK public regardless of where risks are. Four main international concerns are highlighted:

  • While the UK remains a member of the EU, to operate as an influential data protection authority at European level – as well as when the UK leaves, and during any period of transition.
  • In an increasingly globalised world experiencing rapid growth of online technologies, to maximise the ICO’s delivery against its objectives and relevance.
  • To ensure that UK data protection practice and law is used as a benchmark for the highest global standards.
  • To address the uncertainty of legal protections when it comes to international data flows – to, from, and beyond the EU.


The strategy not only sets out priority actions for meeting the aforementioned challenges, it illustrates how the ICO’s resourcing and internal structure will be effective on a global scale. It also complements the key goals of the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan; which focuses on increasing trust from the public and their confidence when it comes to how their information is shared and used. The Information Rights Strategic Plan sets out to remain relevant by keeping updated with rapidly evolving technology and improving standards via targeted, clear communication – at home as well as abroad.


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Part two of the strategy then breaks down into ICO structure and resourcing, engagement and evaluation:


ICO structure – to establish a new International Strategy and Intelligence Department with international activity as a core focus. New resources to be added to our support strategy delivery, with the possibility of further staff exchanges and secondments between relevant international organisations and data protection authorities promoting cross-office working.


Engagement –  hold meetings to cover essential international obligations, bid to host the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners, and promote potential for the UK to act as a global data protection gateway.  Agree on revisions of or new agreements with privacy enforcement and key data protection authorities globally, to encourage information exchange and enforcement capabilities.


Measurement and evaluation – develop a reporting mechanism to assess international activity value, and link to departmental business plans.


You can find the full International Strategy here. If your business operates on a global scale, contact us today for expert advice and guidance on how to ensure your methods meet global data protection challenges.

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