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Data watchdog seeks views on regulatory sandbox

Businesses can help shape the way a new testbed for "innovative products and services using personal data in innovative ways" is designed, according to the UK's data protection authority.12 Sep 2018

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has opened a call for views on its planned new 'regulatory sandbox'.

The watchdog first outlined its intention to establish the sandbox in its technology strategy for 2018-2021, published earlier this year, in which it said the scheme would allow eligible and participating companies to "develop innovative digital products and services, whilst engaging with the regulator, ensuring that appropriate protections and safeguards are in place".

According to the ICO, a formal consultation on the development of the sandbox will be opened later this year. Its call for views exercise, open until 12 October, is aimed at obtaining "early evidence and views on the feasibility, scope and demand for a sandbox", it said. The views gathered will then inform the "detailed proposal" that will be consulted on.

The ICO said that the regulatory sandbox that the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) operates for fintech propositions "has been a key point of reference" in its initial plans for the sandbox, but acknowledged that there are "other options and views" to consider.

"The [information] commissioner is particularly interested in evidence based submissions provided by organisations that are developing innovative products and services using personal data in innovative ways," the ICO said. "She appreciates that different stakeholders will have different and particular areas of expertise. The commissioner will use the evidence gathered to inform further work in developing the sandbox."

The ICO said its sandbox will be a "safe space where organisations are supported to develop innovative products and services using personal data in innovative ways", but that participating companies "won’t be exempt from complying with data protection law".

"They will have the opportunity to engage with us; drawing upon our expertise and advice on mitigating risks and data protection by design, whilst ensuring that appropriate protections and safeguards are in place," it said.