Insights Information Commissioner’s Office publishes Tech Horizons Report


The ICO’s Tech Horizons Report looks at technologies emerging over the next two to five years and warns that the significant benefits they offer could be lost if people feel companies are misusing their data. The ICO is therefore encouraging developers to consider privacy at an early stage when implementing new technologies to maintain public trust and confidence.

The Report, which follows analysis of key technologies expected to impact society in the future, found that businesses must consider transparency, what control people have over their data, and how much data is gathered to ensure their services are data compliant and developed with consumer privacy at the forefront.

The Report is broken down into four categories:

  • Consumer HealthTech: wearable devices and software applications that help people assess their health and wellbeing; research suggests that these devices could monitor blood sugar, alcohol and hydration levels and influence people’s decisions, e.g. maximising athletic performance by monitoring hydration levels;
  • Next-generation Internet of Things (IoT): physical objects that connect and share information, with the ability to sense, respond to or interact with the external environment; these technologies could monitor and store personal habits, combined with external factors like the weather and your energy consumption and provide personalised recommendations, like automatically ordering food based on cost and user habits;
  • Immersive Technology: augmented and virtual reality hardware that creates immersive software experiences for users; in the future, these technologies have the potential to overcome geographical barriers as well as improving educational experiences, e.g. VR headsets will allow people to sit front row at live virtual events; this is achieved through devices that may be gathering personal data including monitoring eye movements, pupil size, heart rate, voice, hand gestures and spatial information; and
  • Decentralised Finance: software that employs blockchain technology to support peer-to-peer financial transactions; these technologies aim to remove centralised intermediaries from transactions and financial products and services to enable consumers to have continued access to banking apps and services improving the ease of moving, lending and borrowing money.

The ICO is also encouraging businesses who need support on projects related to the technologies in the Report to get in touch to be part of its Sandbox scheme. To read the ICO’s press release in full and for a link to the Report, click here.