The Information Commissioner’s Office has appointed its first data ethics advisor, with BP global lead for data privacy Ellis Parry taking up the role with immediate effect.
Parry started his career as a solicitor in private practice, before joining AstraZeneca pharmaceuticals in 2001 as a specialist IT lawyer; he went on to become AstraZeneca’s global privacy officer in 2005.
He left the company to join in BP in December 2010, and while there was responsible for devising and implementing BP’s global approach to personal information handling, including the maintenance of BP’s binding corporate rules.
In a blog post, ICO executive director for technology policy and innovation Simon McDougall said: "Ellis joins the ICO with a wealth of experience from his time leading data protection for BP and AstraZeneca, working through a range of data protection and ethics issues along the way.
"Engaging in data ethics is an innovative step, but I don’t think it’s one that will prove unique. An international consultation in 2018 found more than four in five believe authorities should play a role in this area.
"Ellis’ brief is not to establish a large data ethics function at the ICO - this is a vibrant area for debate and exploration, but it does not follow that the ICO seek to ‘own’ it.
"He will help ensure that the ICO contributes to data ethics discussions in a way that meets the aims of our Information Rights Strategic Plan, and in doing so helps to uphold information rights in the UK."
Last year, the UK Government set up its own Centre of Data Ethics & Innovation, with Starcount boss and data pioneer Edwina Dunn taking a key role in the group.