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ICO calls for safeguards in new technologies


Mark Say Managing Editor

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Several new technologies provide the potential for social and business benefits, but have to come with data protection safeguards, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

It has highlighted the issue in its second Technology Horizons report, published yesterday, which identifies eight emerging technologies with an examination of the potential and data protection and privacy implication for each.

The technologies are genomics, immersive virtual worlds, personalised AI, next generation search, neurotech, quantum computing, commercial use of drones and central bank digital currencies.

Overall, the report identities a handful of issues that need to be address. The first is that innovations enable organisations to collect intimate information about people, and that appropriate safeguards should be built in from the outset.

Second is that many new technologies collect and process increasingly large amounts of personal information to personalise experiences, and that many people find it difficult to understand how it is being used. In response, developers should be clear on what information they are processing and how people can retain control.

Lack of clarity

Thirdlly, multiple organisations are involved in processing personal information, which leads to a lack of clarity. This creates the need for a high degree of transparency to maintain trust.

Finally, the misuse of technology could particularly impact people already need extra support, and developers should build in safeguards where necessary to protect them.

The ICO said it will begin to address the issues raised the report, beginning with plans for further insights this year on quantum computing and genomics. It also work with the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum to examine the implications of new technologies that cross regulatory boundaries.

The first edition of the report was published in December 2022 and looked at four technologies – consumer healthtech, next generation internet of things, immersive technology and decentralised finance – with an emphasis on considering privacy at an early stage of relevant developments.

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