The ICO exists to empower you through information.

Introduction from the Chief Economist (Director of Economic Analysis)

Our team provides economic analysis and advice in support of the full range of the ICO’s activities. As the ICO regulates the whole UK economy, this means that our work is very varied. It can range from considering the interaction of data protection with competition in a new technology market to impact assessments for policies to protect children’s privacy.

To be able to deal with these important, interesting and often complex issues, we ensure that our economists can continuously grow their skills. We have an Economics Profession that allows the ICO’s economists to identify learning and development opportunities and understand potential career pathways. Also, as an independent public body, we offer Associate Membership of the Government Economic Service (GES), allowing us to access a wide range of benefits and learning opportunities.

If this has piqued your interest in our work, our Economics Profession and our role in the wider economics community, you can read more about these below.

Tom Reynolds, Chief Economist

Working with us

With economists located around the UK (Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, London, Wilmslow), we offer an inclusive environment with a wide range of nationalities and backgrounds represented in our team. We provide flexible working conditions and a range of training and development opportunities. We want to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to pursue a fulfilling and engaging career, acquire new skills and enjoy a supportive working environment.

As an economist in the ICO, you will have the opportunity to influence how the UK’s data protection regulator responds to some of the most important public policy questions of the day. You could be collecting and analysing data, providing advice on policy options and preparing briefings for senior leaders. We provide analytical expertise on a vast range of high-profile and intellectually-challenging projects.

Some of our work areas          

From assessing the case for SME business support programmes to applying behavioural economics to consider online choice architecture, and from developing innovation KPIs to the provision of research to support regulatory enforcement, every project is different, meaning the work of the ICO’s economists is varied and stimulating. Here are some examples.

  • Impact assessments, including on the International Data Transfer Agreement (IDTA) and the Data Protection and Journalism Code.
  • Policy evaluations on varied topics, such as the Children’s code and SME Data Essentials.
  • Behavioural economics to understand how consumers form preferences and decisions about use of their personal data.
  • Researching current and future technology markets, including understanding barriers to entry and expansion for market participants.
  • Calculating and advising on the potential impact of financial penalties. This can involve financial analysis in relation to company structures, turnover and financial resilience.
  • Providing advice to clarify the economic, social and public costs, benefits, and trade-offs of proposed interventions, such as the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill.
  • Using the ICO Harms Taxonomy to identify and develop regulatory interventions that safeguard vulnerable consumers.
  • Analysis to support investigations.
  • Conducting research and developing and carrying out surveys to expand our evidence base.
  • Development of frameworks, such as our Impact Assessment Framework.
  • Spreading economic knowledge across the ICO by providing training and guidance to colleagues.

Our work is underpinned by a broad economic toolkit to help solve complex problems. This can include building economic models, applying statistical techniques, data visualisation, geospatial mapping, research, and survey design to name just a few.

Our Economics Profession

Our Economics Profession offers:

  • targeted learning and development opportunities, including access to relevant professional qualifications;
  • visibility of career development pathways;
  • networking opportunities and a mechanism for social learning, sharing insight and good practice;
  • a professional home and sense of belonging; and
  • an opportunity to find out more about other professions and identify potential career development opportunities in different professions.

The core competencies we focus on are consistent with the GES Technical Framework.

Our role in the wider economics community

We consider that we have an important role within the wider economics community. We regularly engage with academia, to make sure that we are feeding the latest research into our work and helping academics understand how their findings would work in real-world contexts. We also collaborate with economists from regulators around the world, to make sure that we are sharing and learning from best practice. Last, but not least, we are actively involved in improving diversity and inclusion within economics, through directly going into educational institutions to speak to students or working with other organisations, such as the GES and Royal Economic Society.