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The Privacy Advisor | ICO appoints Simon McDougall to new executive tech and policy role Related reading: ICO fines Emma's Diary 140K GBP for selling data for political purposes

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The U.K. Information Commissioner's Office has announced the appointment of Simon McDougall, CIPP/E, CIPM, CIPT, to a newly created executive-level position that will report directly to Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. 

McDougall will join the agency as its first-ever executive director for technology policy and innovation. According to the ICO, McDougall will lead strategic approaches to data subjects' information rights and promote legally compliant practices for processing personal data.

ICO Lead Communications Officer Steve Doohan told The Privacy Advisor that in addition to "having strategic responsibility for innovation and technology, [McDougall] will also have overall responsibility for a new innovation department within the ICO." Though it's not yet clear how large the team will be, McDougall and the ICO will begin building it out upon his joining the agency. 

Of the new high profile position, Denham said, "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." 

In response to his appointment, 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." 

McDougall leads Promontory's global privacy and data protection practice and has deep experience in risk management and regulatory compliance. He has led engagements with top financial institutions, technology companies, retailers and life sciences firms; created enterprise-wide privacy programs, developed privacy-risk management models and managed data protection audits; among many other initiatives. 

McDougall also serves on the IAPP's Board of Directors and previously served on its European Advisory Board member, as well. 

According to the ICO, its executive director role is a two-year fixed term providing "crucial support to the work of the Commissioner," as well as establishing an innovation function "taking high-level decisions and supporting the effective corporate governance of the ICO as an independent national regulator during the critical first two years of a new regulatory regime." 

McDougall will also play a "significant" role in the ICO's "strategic plans, policies and initiatives." In addition to building out the agency's technology policy and innovation departments, McDougall "will direct information rights innovation issues and initiatives across the ICO." This will include engaging with outside organizations and promoting effective strategies for processing personal data through emerging technologies and business models.  

Technology has become a significant area for the ICO in recent years. It published its first-ever Technology Strategy, which outlines how the agency will adapt to technological change. The agency also identified artificial intelligence to be one of its top three priority areas for the 2018-2019 year. This was expanded upon in an award-winning paper on the key issues and challenges brought on by AI. It's also developing what it calls a "regulatory sandbox," which allows companies to develop new products based in part on regulatory advice from the ICO. 

"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," Denham explained. 

Though an official start date for McDougall has yet to be finalized, the ICO's Doohan said it "is expected some time in mid-to-late September."

photo credit: Project 365 Day 130: Flag via photopin (license)

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