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Privacy-enhancing technologies in the health sector - your chance to get involved

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By Hamza Drabu & Darryn Hale


Published 07 February 2022


The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is inviting organisations in the health sector to participate in workshops on privacy-enhancing technologies. Privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) include a wide range of processes and approaches to help organisations protect their personal data, such as encryption, pseudonymisation, anonymisation and more advanced methods of protection.

The use of PETs is currently low, especially in the health sector, and the ICO is keen to highlight the benefits PETs can bring to healthcare organisations which consistently handle highly sensitive personal data (often in significant quantities).

The workshops are particularly focused on public and private organisations in the health sector such as:

  •  Start-ups in the health sector which are yet to use PETs
  •  Health and care organisations which are already familiar with PETs  Academic experts in the privacy field
  •  Suppliers of PETs
  •  Health and care organisations already using PETs  Legal and data protection experts

As a result, the workshops will be most impactful if they are able to reflect perspectives from across the healthcare sector, and so we would encourage as many organisations as possible to get involved. The workshops will include data sharing scenarios to explore new ways in which PETs can be tested and the key findings will be used by the ICO to outline further ways in which data can be shared across the healthcare sector and in other sectors (an issue which has historically been an area without consensus of approach to date). The workshops will also help the ICO update its guidance so that this can inform health organisations specifically on how to use PETs to share data lawfully and effectively, again something which has traditionally been missing from ICO guidance.

If you are interested in attending one these workshops, you can sign up here, but you will need to be quick because the deadline is 14 February 2022.

For more information on this alert or on PETs and privacy more generally, please contact our authors below.