The ICO sandbox will help innovators test products with safeguards in place
A forensic analytics platform for monitoring funds into the financial system and a central mechanism for collecting and sharing patient consent are among the projects chosen for the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) data protection sandbox project.
The sandbox is a new ICO service which will help support organisations which are developing innovative products and services using personal data with a clear public benefit.
Data protection by design
According to the ICO, participants will be able to draw on the independent regulator’s expertise and advice on data protection by design, mitigating any risks as they test their innovations, while ensuring that appropriate protections and safeguards are in place.
“The ICO supports innovation in technology and exciting new uses of data, while ensuring that people’s privacy and legal rights are protected. We have always said that privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive and there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between the two,” said Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner.
“The sandbox will help companies and public bodies deliver new products and services of real benefit to the public, with assurance that they have tackled built-in data protection at the outset.”
“We have always said that privacy and innovation are not mutually exclusive and there doesn’t need to be an either-or choice between the two”
In all, 10 projects have been selected from the 64 applications the ICO received for the initial beta phase of the sandbox:
- FutureFlow: a start-up designing a forensic analytics platform that monitors the flow of funds in the financial system. Its platform enables multiple financial institutions, regulators and agencies to leverage each other’s intelligence on electronic financial crime without heavy reliance on personally identifying information. This collaborative approach to tackling financial crime opens the prospect of higher detection rates with lower false positives, while reducing the burden of scrutiny on each individual and business consumer;
- Greater London Authority: in order to reduce levels of violence in London, the mayor has set up a violence reduction unit (VRU) which is taking a public health approach to this issue. As part of this work, the VRU needs to better understand how public health and social services can be managed to prevent and reduce crime, with a focus on early intervention. There is increasing interest from the VRU, the Mayor’s Office of Policing and Crime and the Greater London Authority (GLA), for health, social and crime data to be looked at in an integrated and collaborative way;
- Jisc: it is developing a code of practice with universities and colleges wishing to investigate the use of student activity data to improve their provision of student support services. This will help them protect both privacy and wellbeing;
- The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG): the project partners with Blackpool Council and the Department of Work and Pensions, and seeks to match personal information controlled by multiple parties in order to create a dataset that will allow MHCLG to understand more about the private rented sector in Blackpool, who lives there, and how we can help improve the quality of properties;
- NHS Digital: it is working on the design and development of a central mechanism for collecting and managing patient consents for the sharing of their healthcare data for secondary use purposes, including medical research and regulated clinical trials;
- Novartis Pharmaceuticals UK: Novartis is exploring the use of voice technology within healthcare. Through its voice-enabled solutions project, Novartis is working with healthcare professionals to design solutions to make patient care easier, and addressing the data privacy challenges posed by this emerging technology;
- Onfido: it will research how to identify and mitigate algorithmic bias in machine learning models used for remote biometric-based identity verification;
- Tonic Analytics: the Galileo programme was launched in 2017 and is jointly sponsored by the National Police Chiefs’ Council and Highways England. Galileo’s primary focus is on the ethical use of innovative data analytics technology to improve road safety while also preventing and detecting crime;
- TrustElevate: provides secure authentication and authorisation for under-16s. TrustElevate is the first company globally to provide verified parental consent and age checking of a child. It is working to enable companies to comply with regulatory requirements, and to make the Internet a safer environment for children, facilitating a more robust digital ecosystem and economy.
The next stage of the process will be to agree and develop detailed plans for each sandbox participant before work starts on testing their products and services. It is envisaged all participants will have exited the sandbox by September 2020.
As part of the sandbox participation agreement, the ICO said it and the 10 organisations taking part in the beta phase will not go into any further detail about their respective individual projects at this stage.
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