ICO appoints Data Ethics Advisor with a focus on GDPR

Ellis Parry will join the regulator to ensure it contributes to discussions on data ethics

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The ICO has appointed a 'Data Ethics Advisor' to consider the challenges new technologies pose towards the protection of personal information.

Ellis Parry has been hired to ensure the ICO contributes to discussions on the ethical use of data and to help the regulator understand the philosophical elements of the digital world.

Although the GDPR is a principle-based law that can be applied to a range of situations, interpretation of it can be complex, the ICO said. It also sees broad ethical questions being raised around when data protection and data ethics overlap, or where they may even conflict.

"We've just appointed our first data ethics adviser, Ellis Parry, to consider these challenges over the next year," said Simon McDougall, executive director for tech policy and innovation at the ICO. "Ellis joins the ICO with a wealth of experience, working through a range of data protection and ethics issues along the way."

Parry started his career as a solicitor in private practice, before joining AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals in 2001 as a specialist IT lawyer. He became the company's global privacy officer in 2005 but left to join BP as its global lead for data privacy in 2010 - a position he held till November this year.

McDougall added that Parry's brief "is not to establish a large data ethics function at the ICO". Instead, Ellis will help ensure that the ICO contributes to data ethics discussions in a way that meets the aims of its Information Rights Strategic Plan, and in doing so helps to uphold information rights in the UK.

Facial recognition technology is a good example of where more ethical considerations are needed. The ICO has recently investigated the UK police over its use of the technology. The regulator has urged the force to curb its use until a code of practice can be established.

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