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June 19, 2023

The Stack: UK data watchdog wants DPOs to adopt Privacy Enhancing Technologies

Technologies could help data leaders ensure “data protection by design and by default” says ICO

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has called for organisations to start using privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) like synthetic data and homomorphic encryption to protect customer data.

In new guidance the data watchdog said that PETs could help data protection officers (DPOs) demonstrate a “data protection by design and by default” approach to data processing – with the report detailing a range of different technology approaches that organisations could take.

The guidance comes amid rampant data breaches – some caused by malicious cyber attacks, others by human error –  and as regulators have become more forceful about GDPR breaches, with fines increasing.

DPOs should “not regard PETs as a silver bullet to meet all of your data protection requirements” the ICO cautioned this week, adding that some can “require significant expertise to set up and use appropriately. Insufficient expertise can lead to mistakes in implementation…”

But used correctly they can:

“Reduce the identifiability of the people that the information you are processing is about. These can help you to fulfil the principle of data minimisation; focus on hiding and shielding information. These can help you achieve the requirements of the security principle; and split datasets. These can help you to fulfil both the data minimisation and security principles, depending on the nature of the processing,” the ICO said.

The ICO specifically highlighted the following PETs technologies:

The ICO’s report comes amid growing interest in the potential for PETs (companies previously highlighted by The Stack in this space include Enveil and Hazy) and after the Royal Society published its own report.

Its in-depth “From Privacy to Partnership” paper on PETs, published in January 2023, emphasised that among the many benefits of PETs adoption is their ability to help facilitate collaborative analysis and establish data partnerships: “For example, organisations with a mandate to use data for public good are using PETs to make in-house data usable for external analysts; cross-sector partnerships between crime agencies and uman rights NGOs involves the pooling of datasets for analysis without revealing their contents to one another , enabling efficient, collective intelligence between analysts who do not see the original data.”

European data protection supervisory authorities imposed £1.43 billion in fines between January 2022-2023, up 50%. (With Meta fined a record €1.2 billion in 2023, that figure looks set to soar again this year...)

After four consecutive years of growth, the number of data breach notifications fell for the first time in 2022 however, law firm DLA Piper’s annual report shows, with ~109,000 personal data breaches reported to regulators, down from 120,000: “This might suggest that organisations are becoming more wary of notifying breaches for fear of investigations, enforcement, fines and compensation claims that might follow,” it said.

Read full article here.

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Enveil is a pioneering Privacy Enhancing Technology company protecting Data in Use. Enveil’s business-enabling and privacy-preserving capabilities change the paradigm of how and where organizations can leverage data to unlock value. Defining the transformative category of Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs), Enveil’s award-winning ZeroReveal® solutions for secure data usage, collaboration, monetization, and Secure AI protect the content of the search, analytic, or model while it's being used or processed. Customers can extract insights, cross-match, search, analyze, and leverage AI across boundaries and silos at scale without exposing their interests and intent or compromising the security or ownership of the underlying data. A World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer and Gartner Cool Vendor, Enveil is deployed and operational today, revolutionizing data usage in the global marketplace.
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