5G mobile data
The advent of 5G mobile data networks could take threats to personal data and privacy to a new level, the Information Commissioner’s Office has warned.

The potential for large volumes of data to be transferred at high speed over constantly connected networks, which can communicate with personal devices such as smartphones, opens up a variety of marketing uses that could be “creepy” and “intrusive” and pose “dramatic challenges”, according to the ICO’s executive director for technology policy and innovation Simon McDougall.

“The kind of possibilities we currently only have via the Internet of Things in some people’s homes are going to be possible out there on the street all the time,” he told the DMA’s Data Protection 2019 conference in London today (1 March).

Having returned from this week’s Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona, McDougall pointed out that use cases of 5G have begun to appear in nascent form. One “exciting but potentially very intrusive” example is the ability for digital outdoor advertising sites to communicate on a constant basis with personal devices such as smartphones and wearables.

Marketers and the ICO – as the enforcement body for data protection laws – will need to act with care to ensure such applications of 5G do not cross the line, remaining useful to consumers and respectful of their privacy, he cautioned.

The warning came in a speech that also addressed the regulator’s activities since the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force last May. These include consulting on a code of practice for direct…