The ICO exists to empower you through information.

Calling our helpline

When you call our main helpline (0303 123 1113), we collect Calling Line Identification (CLI) information. This is the phone number you are calling from (if it’s not withheld). We hold a log of the phone number, date, time and duration of the call, but do not audio record the call itself. We hold this information for 100 days.

We use this information to understand the demand for our services and to improve how we operate. We may also use the number to call you back if you have asked us to do so, if your call drops, or if there is a problem with the line. We may also use it to check how many calls we have received from it.

We don’t audio record any calls, but we might make notes to help us answer your query. Other ICO staff may also listen in during your call for training or quality assurance purposes.

We sometimes conduct surveys on our helpline to help us identify trends in the enquiries we receive and improve how we operate. If you are a controller we may ask if you have paid your data protection fee and enquire about your use of our website and guidance resources. If you require a follow up call we will also ask you to provide us with your contact details.

We use an online tool hosted by Snap Surveys to record your survey responses. You can read their privacy policy here. Data collected by Snap Surveys for the ICO is stored on UK servers.

We may also invite you to participate in a customer satisfaction survey. If you would like to be included, we will pass your name and email address onto a third party, the Institute of Customer Service (ICS), who run our customer satisfaction surveys.

We use a translation service provided by Language Line Limited for customers when English is not their first language. We don’t retain call scripts and neither do Language Line. It is processed live for the purposes of translating the call.

We welcome calls in Welsh on 0330 414 6421. Rydym yn croesawu galwadau yn Gymraeg ar 0330 414 6421.

If you need to contact us via the phone and you are deaf or have a hearing or speech impairment, you can use the free BT service Relay UK.

Install the free app, which you can access on your device's app store, on your smartphone, tablet, or computer. Then, call our advice line on 0303 123 1113, from Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. The Relay UK service itself is free. You'll only pay your normal charges for the calls.

If you want to use your textphone to contact us, dial 18001 followed by 0303 123 1113. We do not keep any call information or messages left on the phone.

Alternatively, you can also contact us using our live chat.

We also hold statistical information about the calls we receive for a number of years, but this does not contain any personal data.

Submitting a form through our website

Our website allows you to submit forms to us, for example, when making a complaint or paying the data protection fee. We use Twilio Sendgrid to support our email infrastructure and the operation of these services. Any personal information you share with us may be shared with Twilio and this can include the transfer of data to the USA. We have in place Standard Contractual Clauses to safeguard this transfer and data is retained by Twilio for no more than 61 days.

Social media

We use a third-party provider, Hootsuite, to manage our social-media interactions. If you send us a private or direct message via social media, it will be stored by Hootsuite for three months. It will not be shared with any other organisations.

We see all this information and decide how we manage it. For example, if you send a message via social media that needs a response from us, we may process it in our case management system as an enquiry or a complaint or a request for information. When contacting the ICO through a social media platform, we suggest you also familiarise yourself with the privacy information of that platform. The social media platforms we currently use are:

Live chat

We use a third-party provider, Nasstar, to supply and support our live chat service.

If you use our live chat service we’ll collect the contents of your live chat session and if you choose to provide it your name and email address. Nasstar retains this data for us for 100 days.


Our Chatbot service allows site visitors to ask, and get answers to, questions from a ‘bot’ (or automated service).

If you use the chatbot, the chatbot will share the contents of your chat with Microsoft Azure cognitive services, Google natural language processing services, Bing search and Bing spellchecker services, which are used to allow the bot to interpret and answer questions. The third party services only process your data during your chat session. It isn’t necessary for you to share your personal data with us when using this service, but if you chose to do so then your information would be shared with those services.

The ICO retains the contents of chats for 12 months, for training and analysis. We also hold statistical information about the Chatbot service, but this does not contain any personal data.

The ICO uses a third party, ICS.AI, to provide technical support for the chatbot.

Emailing us

We use Transport Layer Security (TLS) to encrypt and protect email traffic in line with government guidance on email security. Most webmail such as Gmail and Hotmail use TLS by default.

We use machine learning tools to review the content of emails sent to us. We use this information to train our systems, gain insight into demand for our services and to improve how we operate. You may receive an automatic reply, your original email request will remain unaltered and will be processed by ICO staff.

We’ll also monitor any emails sent to us, including file attachments, for viruses or malicious software. You must ensure that any email you send is within the bounds of the law.

Writing to us

We use Exela Technologies who provide a digital mailroom service for opening and scanning our post. If you write to us your mail will be opened and scanned by Exela staff who then provide us with a digitised copy for ICO staff to review and action.

Purpose and lawful basis for processing

The lawful basis we rely on to process personal data for the above purposes is article 6(1)(e) of the UK GDPR which allows us to process personal data when this is necessary to perform our public task as a regulator.