The Information Commissioner’s commitment to encouraging new ideas and emerging technologies while protecting people’s privacy has been strengthened with a high-profile appointment.

Simon McDougall is joining the ICO as Executive Director for Technology Policy and Innovation - leading new approaches to information rights practice and promoting the legally compliant processing of personal data as a core element of new technologies and business systems.

Mr McDougall is currently Managing Director of Promontory – a risk management and regulatory compliance consulting firm acquired in 2016 by IBM, where he founded and led a global privacy practice. He has extensive experience of working across a wide range of sectors and jurisdictions on privacy, compliance, digital initiatives and innovation.

He is a well-known international figure in the world of information rights, serving on the Board of Directors and the European Advisory Board at the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) along with many other consultative and advisory groups.

Mr McDougall said:

“I am honoured to have the opportunity to join the ICO and lead their work in this critical area. Technological change continues to accelerate, and it is vital that the ICO remains constructively and robustly engaged as organisations innovate in the use of personal data.”

Technology is a key area for the ICO, as demonstrated by the following:

  • The publication of our first Technology Strategy, outlining how the ICO will adapt to technological change as it impacts information rights and how we’ll plan ahead for the arrival of new technologies. It explains our eight technology goals and how we intend to achieve them.
  • Making artificial intelligence (AI) one of our top three priorities for 2018/19. This includes a new Technology Fellowship programme with a two-year post-doctoral appointment to investigate and research the impact of AI on data privacy. Our updated, award winning paper on AI, Big Data and Machine Learning has been key in highlighting many of the issues and challenges facing society.
  • Plans for a regulatory ‘sandbox’ to enable organisations to develop innovative products and services while benefitting from advice and support from the ICO. We intend to consult on implementation this year.
  • Adding cyber incidents as a sixth strategic goal in the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan.

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said:

“We have ambitious plans for our work in the crucial area of technology and also to ensure we are an innovative regulator, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things.

“As a globally respected figure in the world of privacy and innovation, Simon is a great fit for this new role, which will strengthen our expertise and responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities.”

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.       
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation 2003.
  3. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new data protection law which applied in the UK from 25 May 2018. Its provisions are included in the Data Protection Act 2018. The Act also includes measures related to wider data protection reforms in areas not covered by the GDPR, such as law enforcement and security. The UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR.
  4. The ICO Technology Strategy 2018-2021 seeks to develop and enhance technical knowledge and understanding at the ICO and to ensure we effectively communicate these to both organisations and individuals. It explains our eight technology goals and how we intend to achieve them.
  5. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.