ICO launches more funding for innovative privacy solutions

Organisations are invited to bid for a series of grants from the ICO to develop innovative digital privacy solutions. Favoured tech includes machine learning, big data and biometrics.

James Hayes | 6th Jul 18
Image shows ICO logo. The Information Commissioner's Office is offering funding grants of between £20,000 and £100,000 to promote and support innovative research and solutions focused on privacy and data protection issues.

A second round of funding to promote and support independent, innovative research and solutions focused on privacy and data protection issues has been launched by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Grants will range between £20,000 and £100,000, the regulatory authority has confirmed, creating a high-value opportunity for digital innovation from the third-sector and their technology partners.

Proposals must have a practical application and provide real world solutions that are of clear public benefit to the people of the UK.  Previous grant recipients have included charitable-status universities Imperial College London and Teesside University.

“Information rights are evolving, and it is fair to say that a lot has happened since the ICO launched the grants programme a year ago,” said Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner at the ICO. “The introduction of the GDPR and the new Data Protection Act 2018, along with high-profile cases and incidents, have meant that privacy issues and concerns about how personal information is used have probably never been more prominent.”

Denham added: “Eligible organisations are invited to bid for grants to support independent research and projects that meet one or more of the six strategic goals set out in the ICO’s Information Rights Strategic Plan. The key goal is to increase public trust and confidence in how their personal data is used. In particular, we are seeking privacy by design or accountability solutions which focus on key privacy challenges, providing clear public benefit with outputs that are open source and re-usable.”

Examples areas cited by the ICO include:

  • Artificial intelligence, machine learning and big data (solutions that would enable effective transparency to individuals or verifiable audit trails, in particular).
  • Biometric and facial recognition.
  • Child data, age verification and parental consent verification solutions.
  • Data trusts and the safe sharing of personal information.
  • Good practice, GDPR compliance, and self-assessment tools for Small and Medium Organisations.
  • Privacy-enhancement applications of blockchain and distributed ledger technology.
  • Online advertising, cross-device tracking and tools that provide revocable consent and transparency.

A webinar for potential applicants, where the programme will be discussed in detail, takes place on Tuesday 17 July starting at 12pm. Register to take part here.