ICO offers grants to improve awareness of data protection issues

07 Jun 2017 News

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioner’s Office is offering grants of between £20,000 and £100,000 to support independent research on privacy and data protection issues. 

Part of the objective of the grants programme is to “develop existing privacy research capacity in academic and not-for-profit sectors” and the regulator wants to raise overall public awareness of data protection. 

It also wants to raise awareness among data controllers, such as charities or any other organisation processing data, and improve understanding of how people view privacy issues.

The ICO has recently fined a number of high-profile charities for breaches of data protection and privacy laws, but charities complained that they were not aware that the way that they had carried out wealth screening and other activity was not permitted. 

Three quarters of public don’t trust how data is used 

The ICO said the programme was needed to improve public trust. 

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, said: “Information Rights evolve with time. The new grants programme is designed to give practical research and policy a stronger voice in this evolution.

“At the core of our new Information Rights Strategic Plan is the objective of promoting trust for the public. Current research shows that 75 per cent of the public don’t trust the way that their personal data is used. I want to see that number reduce and that requires evidence of what is causing the problem and well considered ideas for how to address it.”


The programme is open to academic institutions, civil society groups, trade and industry associations and organisations with a genuine commitment to public benefit outcomes.

The ICO said it expects to make grants totallying £250,000 each year for the remaining four years of Denham's tenure, "but this will be subject to review every year". 

Proposals should address one of the five strategic goals set out in the ICO’s strategic plan, which are:  

  1. To increase the public’s trust and confidence in how data is used and made available.
  2. Improve standards of information rights practice through clear, inspiring and targeted engagement and influence.
  3. Maintain and develop influence within the global information rights regulatory community.
  4. Stay relevant, provide excellent public service and keep abreast of evolving technology.
  5. Enforce the laws we help shape and oversee

The deadline for applications is 28 July. More information is available on the ICO’s website


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