ICO regulatory masterplan barely raises an eyebrow

edwards ico25_2The data regulator’s much-hyped three-year plan – ICO25 – appears to have fallen victim to the summer holiday season or maybe even the heatwave, with a muted response from both the media and the industry, despite a pledge to protect the vulnerable, tackle discrimination and empower people.

New Information Commissioner John Edwards revealed his masterplan yesterday but has so far only gained limited support and media coverage; hardly the fanfare he would have expected from such a signature policy document.

DMA chief executive Chris Combemale simply said: “The DMA supports the approach outlined by the ICO in the ICO25 plan and look forward to working collaboratively with them to represent the interests of our community.”

There has been no endorsement from ministers, opposition parties or businesses groups like the CBI; even privacy organisations, usually quick to respond to any ICO utterings, have been silent.

Whether this is due to the lack of detail in the strategy or simply that everyone is now focused on their summer holidays is not known.

The main focus of the first 12 months of ICO25 will be tackling predatory marketing calls – always a crowd pleaser – and the beleaguered Freedom of Information system, along with children’s privacy, AI-driven discrimination, and the use of algorithms.

However, it also appears to lean heavily on the Data Reform Bill, which many predict could be delayed due to the Conservative Party leadership contest which will not be concluded until later this summer.

Although there has been no official notification of a delay, there has been no timetable set either.

Ministers have already hit the pause button on the Online Safety Bill, which had been in its final stages and was to be discussed in Parliament next week, but is now on hold until MPs return from their summer break.

A Government source confirmed to the BBC that timetable pressures meant the Bill is being rescheduled.

In response to the ICO25 strategy, FSB national chair Martin McTague said: “Ensuring regulations are constructive and clear is essential for small firms – allowing them to excel in safe and productive environments.

“This strategy is a positive step in the right direction and we’re pleased to see our recommendation to provide a clear distinction between guidance and legal requirements has been taken forward.”

Meanwhile TechUK director of tech and innovation Sue Daley said: “TechUK welcomes the launch of the ICO25 plan. The consultative approach being taken…and how we get the next steps right for citizens and all businesses is particularly welcomed. But it’s also important that focus now moves to how the plan will be put into action.

“TechUK stands ready to engage and support the ICO as we navigate the forthcoming reform of the UK’s data protection regime together.”

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