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Former EU data protection tsar joins ICO

Former EU data protection supervisor joins the UK’s privacy watchdog as non-executive director, strengthening its commitment to international work

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced the appointment of former European data protection supervisor Peter Hustinx as its fifth non-executive director and the newest member of the Management Board.

The ICO said the “prestigious appointment” strengthens its commitment to remaining an effective and influential international data protection regulator after Brexit.

Hustinx was the first European data protection supervisor and served in the role for more than 10 years, as well as serving as a director of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and the Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) in Washington DC.

“I look forward to working with the ICO to help ensure its continued effectiveness and good governance in a period of rapid transitions,” Hustinx said in a statement.

“In view of my long experience as a data protection regulator, both in the Netherlands and at European level, I also hope to contribute to a close and productive co-operation with other colleagues, facing similar challenges and often sharing the same legal frameworks.”

Hustinx has been influential in the development of data protection law in his role as president of the Dutch Data Protection Authority from 1991 until 2004, and chairman of the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party of data protection authorities from 1996 until 2000.

Elizabeth Denham, UK information commissioner, said the ICO will benefit from the vast experience, expertise and international connections that Hustinx brings.

“He will be a real asset in helping us to continue to maintain and grow our global networks and influence,” she said.

In light of the data protection implications of Brexit, Denham said that she believes that the ICO and EU supervisory authorities will remain internationally connected.

“New working relationships will be essential to maintaining the flow of data in areas such as international transfers, mutual contribution to guidance development on topics of interest, and keeping pace with emerging threats and changing technology,” she said.

The ICO has set out its commitment to international work and its goals in International Strategy document for 2017-21.

The strategy sets out how the ICO plans to deal with challenges such as Brexit, the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and changing technologies, and outlines what the ICO sees as its main international concerns over the next four years:

  • To operate as an effective and influential data protection authority at European level while the UK remains a member of the EU and when the UK has left the EU, or during any transitional period.
  • Maximising the ICO’s relevance and delivery against its objectives in an increasingly globalised world with rapid growth of online technologies.
  • Ensuring that UK data protection law and practice is a benchmark for high global standards.
  • Addressing the uncertainty of the legal protections for international data flows to and from the EU, and beyond, including adequacy.

In October 2018, Denham was appointed chair of the International Conference of Data Protection and Privacy Commissioners (ICDPPC), which is the leading global forum of data protection and privacy authorities, encompassing more than 120 members across all continents.

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