HomeInsightsInformation Commissioner publishes open letter to UK organisations

Article by

As organisations continue to adapt to respond to the challenges of COVID-19, the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham sets out the continued support UK organisations can expect from the ICO in the coming months. Ms Denham says that the ICO will “continue prioritising practical advice that supports you through both the pandemic and recovery period”.

The ICO will also continue to advise and support organisations looking to innovate or do things differently, with guidance scheduled on data sharing and accountability, and an information hub dedicated to helping SMEs.

Ms Denham notes that as a regulator, the ICO’s primary responsibility is to ensure compliance with the law. While fines and penalties may grab the headlines, Ms Denham says that the ICO works alongside organisations, helping them to make changes and improvements to comply with the law, as this is “the most effective way of reducing mistakes and misuse of people’s data”. An example of this approach is the ICO working with public authorities and supermarkets, so that they could share information to support people shielding during Covid-19.

Ms Denham says that the ICO will “always have a role in bringing to task those organisations that wilfully ignore the rules, or fail to take responsibility for their actions”, but given the current focus on economic recovery plans as organisations recover, the ICO’s regulatory approach will “adjust to take account of increasing operational resilience”. Accordingly, the ICO has updated its regulatory approach document, informed by what organisations are telling it about their own capacity. Ms Denham describes it as “another step towards returning to our approach before COVID-19, but with the caveats and exceptions that reflect today’s reality”.

The ICO’s “pragmatic approach and commitment to supporting […] organisations to protect people’s information rights” will not change, Ms Denham says. To read the letter in full, click here.