Horizons and sandboxes: Emerging technology and data protection law

Victoria Hordern of Taylor Wessing takes a look at the ICO’s Tech Horizons Report and the use of its regulatory sandbox.

One of the complaints repeatedly made about the law is that it consistently lags behind real-world developments. While we cannot necessarily expect data protection authorities to be at the bleeding edge of technological developments, they themselves recognise they are less effective when unable to understand the environments they are seeking to regulate.

One way to improve their technological nous is through a regulatory sandbox environment where organisations can openly discuss innovative technologies with the regulator, allowing both business and regulator to get ahead of potential data privacy issues. Regulators are also proactively providing guidance and views on emerging technologies which will interact with data protection requirements – notably the UK Information Commissioner’s AI guidance(1) updated as recently as 15 March. However, these interactions and interventions can sometimes highlight that there are currently no clear answers where new technologies intersect with the data protection legal framework.

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