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ICO to shortlist Sandbox applicants

Privacy watchdog’s Sandbox service aims to help develop innovative and beneficial products and services that are privacy compliant

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) received 64 applications from companies competing for a chance to take part in the beta phase of the privacy watchdog’s Sandbox business development service ahead of the deadline on 24 May 2019.

The service is a key initiative by the ICO as part of the organisation’s pledge to support business innovation and to help ensure developers of tech and digital services do not lose society’s trust.

The Sandbox is designed to enable participants to work through how they use personal data in their projects with the ICO’s support to ensure they comply with data protection rules.

“Organisations have clearly put a good deal of thought into how they want to work with us to help ensure that their innovative projects using personal information can comply with data protection law,” said Chris Taylor, head of assurance at the ICO.

“Our initial analysis suggests there are many high-quality, viable applications. There was also an interesting spread of applicants from different sectors and of varying size,” Taylor wrote in a blog post.

The applicants will be scored using the ICO’s selection criteria to draw up a shortlist, which will be used by an internal assessment panel to select which projects will proceed.

The key requirements are that the product or service being developed is innovative and can provide “a potential demonstrable benefit” to the public. Public benefit will be determined in terms of how many people will benefit and the extent to which they benefit.

The ICO expects that about 10 projects will be chosen for the initial beta phase of the Sandbox, depending on the nature of the successful applications.

The successful applicants will be notified in July, when the ICO Sandbox team will work with them to draw up detailed plans for their project.

In the longer term, the ICO expects Sandbox participants to become use cases that will enable the watchdog to anticipate change and develop public guidance and resources on compliance.

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Announcing the ICO Sandbox initiative in March 2019, Simon McDougall, executive director for technology and innovation at the ICO, said thousands of organisations were working on projects using personal data that transform they way people live and work.

“We want to support this innovation while helping to ensure that the products and services under development are compliant and deliver benefits to the public,” he said.

McDougall said the Sandbox will provide the environment that organisations need to test new concepts and technologies.

“The lessons we learn together may identify more fundamental questions with broader implications for data protection, and could ultimately inform the development of new guidance or codes of conduct in particular sectors to pave the way for further innovation,” he said.

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