ICO

On 15 January 2024, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) announced the launch of a consultation series (“Consultation”) on how elements of data protection law apply to the development and use of generative AI (“GenAI”). For the purposes of the Consultation, GenAI refers to “AI models that can create new content e.g., text, computer code, audio, music, images, and videos”.

As part of the Consultation, the ICO will publish a series of chapters over the coming months outlining their thinking on how the UK GDPR and Part 2 of the Data Protection Act 2018 apply to the development and use of GenAI. The first chapter, published in tandem with the Consultation’s announcement, covers the lawful basis, under UK data protection law, for web scraping of personal data to train GenAI models. Interested stakeholders are invited to provide feedback to the ICO by 1 March 2024.Continue Reading ICO Launches Consultation Series on Generative AI

On 21 June 2023, at the close of a roundtable meeting of the G7 Data Protection and Privacy Authorities, regulators from the United States, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada and Japan published a joint “Statement on Generative AI” (“Statement”) (available here). In the Statement, regulators identify a range of data protection-related concerns they believe are raised by generative AI tools, including legal authority for processing personal information, and transparency, explainability, and security. The group of regulators also call on companies to “embed privacy in the design conception, operation, and management” of generative AI tools.

In advance of the G7 meeting, on 15 June 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) separately announced that it will be “checking” whether businesses have addressed privacy risks before deploying generative AI, and “taking action where there is risk of harm to people through poor use of their data”.Continue Reading UK and G7 Privacy Authorities Warn of Privacy Risks Raised by Generative AI

On 29 March 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published updated Guidance on AI and data protection (the “Guidance”) following “requests from UK industry to clarify requirements for fairness in AI”. AI has been a strategic priority for the ICO for several years. In 2020, the ICO published its first set of guidance on AI (as discussed in our blog post here) which it complemented with supplementary recommendations on Explaining Decisions Made with AI and an AI and Data Protection risk toolkit in 2022. The updated Guidance forms part of the UK’s wider efforts to adopt a “pro-innovation” approach to AI regulation which will require existing regulators to take responsibility for promoting and overseeing responsible AI within their sectors (for further information on the UK Government’s approach to AI regulation, see our blog post here).

The updated Guidance covers the ICO’s view of best practice for data protection-compliant AI, as well as how the ICO interprets data protection law in the context of AI systems that process personal data. The Guidance has been restructured in line with the UK GDPR’s data protection principles, and features new content, including guidance on fairness, transparency, lawfulness and accountability when using AI systems.Continue Reading UK ICO Updates Guidance on Artificial Intelligence and Data Protection

On 29 March 2023, the UK Government published a White Paper entitled “A pro-innovation approach to AI regulation” (“White Paper”). The White Paper elaborates on the approach to AI set out by the Government in its 2022 AI Governance and Regulation Policy Statement (“Policy Statement” – covered in our blog post here). This announcement comes following the Government’s commitments, in the Spring Budget 2023, to build an expert taskforce to develop the UK’s capabilities in AI foundation models and produce guidance on the relationship between intellectual property law and generative AI (for more details of these initiatives, see here).

In its White Paper, the UK Government confirms that, unlike the EU, it does not plan to adopt new legislation to regulate AI, nor will it create a new regulator for AI (for further details on the EU’s proposed AI regulation see our blog posts here and here). Instead, the UK would require existing regulators, including the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), to take responsibility for the establishment, promotion, and oversight of responsible AI in their respective sectors. Regulators’ activities would be reinforced by the establishment of new support and oversight functions within central Government. This approach is already beginning to play out in certain regulated areas in the UK. For example, in October 2022, the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority (“FCA”) jointly released a Discussion Paper on Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning considering how AI in financial services should be regulated and, in March 2023, the ICO updated its Guidance on AI and Data Protection.  Continue Reading UK Government Adopts a “Pro-Innovation” Approach to AI Regulation

On 10 September 2020, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) published its beta-phase “Accountability Framework” (“Framework”).  The Framework is designed to assist organisations, of any size and across all sectors, in complying with the accountability principle under the GDPR and in meeting the expectations of the ICO.

The Framework will help those within organisations who are responsible for implementing data protection compliance strategies.  The ICO envisages that organisations will use the Framework in conjunction with other relevant guidance and materials available from the ICO.  The ICO emphasises that each organisation must be mindful of its own circumstances when managing data protection risks, and that a “one size fits all” approach should not be adopted.Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner’s Office Publishes Draft Accountability Framework Tool

On July 16, 2019, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) released a new draft Data sharing code of practice (“draft Code”), which provides practical guidance for organizations on how to share personal data in a manner that complies with data protection laws.  The draft Code focuses on the sharing of personal data between controllers, with a section referring to other ICO guidance on engaging processors.  The draft Code reiterates a number of legal requirements from the GDPR and DPA, while also including good practice recommendations to encourage compliance. The draft Code is currently open for public consultation until September 9, 2019, and once finalized, it will replace the existing Data sharing code of practice (“existing Code”).
Continue Reading ICO Launches Public Consultation on New Data Sharing Code of Practice

On 29 March 2019, the ICO opened the beta phase of the “regulatory sandbox” scheme (the “Sandbox”), which is a new service designed to support organizations that are developing innovative and beneficial projects that use personal data.  The application process for participating in the Sandbox is now open, and applications must be submitted to the ICO by noon on Friday 24 May 2019. The ICO has published on its website a Guide to the Sandbox, which explains the scheme in detail.

The purpose of the Sandbox is to support organizations that are developing innovative products and services using personal data and develop a shared understanding of what compliance looks like in particular innovative areas.  Organizations participating in the Sandbox are likely to benefit from having the opportunity to liaise directly with the regulator on innovative projects with complex data protection issues. The Sandbox will also be an opportunity for market leaders in innovative technologies to influence the ICO’s approach to certain use cases with challenging aspects of data protection compliance or where there is uncertainty about what compliance looks like.
Continue Reading ICO opens beta phase of privacy “regulatory sandbox”

On 28 November 2012, following an 18-month investigation, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) announced that it had fined the joint owners of Tetrus Telecoms (Tetrus) a total of £440,000 under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).  The fine penalized Tetrus for sending millions of unsolicited text messages promoting opportunities to claim compensation for