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The ICO names IBM’s Simon McDougall as its first innovation director

The Information Commissioner’s Office has appointed Simon McDougall, a managing director at IBM’s Promontory consulting firm, as its first executive director for innovation.

McDougall will be tasked with developing an innovation and technology policy unit at the regulator to identify new ways to process and protect people’s data. At IBM, he launched a global privacy practice and helped a number of businesses build data protection programmes.

The appointment comes after the ICO published a strategy earlier this year outlining its plans for keeping pace with the rise of artificial intelligence and other new technologies. At the core of these plans is a regulatory ‘sandbox’ to assist businesses that are testing new systems.

McDougall said he was honoured to have been chosen to lead the regulator’s work in the area, adding: “Technological change continues to accelerate, and it is vital that the ICO remains constructively and robustly engaged as organisations innovate in the use of personal data.”

In addition to his role at IBM, McDougall has served on the board of directors and the European advisory board at the International Association of Privacy Professionals. He previously worked in Deloitte’s audit and technology risk unit.

“We have ambitious plans for our work in the crucial area of technology and also to ensure we are an innovative regulator, open to new ideas and new ways of doing things,” said Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner.

“As a globally respected figure in the world of privacy and innovation, Simon is a great fit for this new role, which will strengthen our expertise and responsiveness to new challenges and opportunities.”

The position is a two-year fixed-term contract with a level H salary, which ranges from £95,000 to £135,000. McDougall is expected to join the ICO in late September.