ICO wants your view on key GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) issue

Information Commissioner opens debate on problematic issue of profiling under imminent EU data protection legislation, looks for UK IT community to stakeholders to share its views

Posted 10 April 2017 by Gary Flood

The UK’s official privacy watchdog says input is needed on one of the most controversial aspects of the upcoming European Union’s updated data protection strictures, profiling – and if you feel your have something to say, now’s the time.

‘Profiling’ means using aspects of an individual’s personality or behaviour, interests and habits to be determined, analysed and predicted, via things like looking at their Internet browsing history, their financial doings or evaluation of their lifestyle and behaviour data gathered from mobile phones.

This sort of profiling of users is now a big part of the modern Information Economy – but it’s usually done in secret, and the EU thinks that should change.

Among other changes, the GDPR introduces new rights for data subjects and obligations for controllers to promote “greater transparency and more individual control when profiling is being carried out on personal data”, such as additional information requirements and greater accountability.

That has implications for all sorts of players either doing profiling or using data based on it, clearly – and there’s an angle here for the digital consumer and citizen, too.

At the end of last week the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) published some draft guidance on profiling, which as it notes “is specifically addressed in the GDPR and there are new obligations for data controllers to consider” in General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which despite Brexit is still almost certainly something UK organisations need to adopt to trade with Europe.

The ICO feels that the new relationship between profiling once GDPR becomes law in terms marketing, the right to object and data minimisation all need discussion.

The ICO has set up a special email for responses from vendors and public sector entities alike, profiling@ico.org.uk, with a deadline of April 28th for any submissions.

After the deadline has passed, it plans to publish a summary of responses it receives.

In a blog on its site released at the same time as the consultation process being opened by its Interim Head of Policy and Engagement, Jo Pedder, the ICO says that. “Profiling can be a powerful tool for organisations and can benefit individuals, the economy and society generally [and] can help organisations to understand and target audiences more effectively and is used to make decisions about people, but these can have a significant and sometimes detrimental effect on individuals.”