ICO and Ofcom issue statement on working together on online safety and data protection

November 28, 2022

The Information Commissioner’s Office and Ofcom have issued a joint statement setting out how they will work together with the aim of ensuring coherence between the data protection and the new online safety regimes.

The joint statement builds on their existing cooperative approach to regulation – and on their close working relationship established as co-founders of the Digital Regulation Cooperation Forum.

In anticipation of Ofcom taking on new duties in 2023 under the Online Safety Bill, the statement sets out their shared regulatory aims. Ofcom and the ICO want:

  • people who use online services to have confidence that their safety and privacy will be upheld and that they will take prompt and effective action when providers fail in their obligations; and
  • providers of online services of all sizes to comply with their obligations and to continue to innovate and grow, supported by regulatory clarity and free from undue burden.

To achieve this, the ICO and Ofcom will work closely together to achieve maximum alignment and consistency between the data protection and online safety regimes. They will:

  • maximise coherence by ensuring that their policies are consistent with each other’s regulatory requirements – and consult closely when preparing codes and guidance. They will seek solutions that enhance users’ safety and preserve their privacy. Where there are tensions between privacy and safety objectives, they say that they will provide clarity on how compliance can be achieved with both regimes; and
  • promote compliance by setting clear expectations for industry on what they must do to meet both their online safety and data protection requirements. That includes particular support through the transition for small and emerging firms to help them thrive and grow. They will take action against services that don’t meet their obligations, sharing information and intelligence as appropriate and coordinating approaches to enforcement.