ICO: Email classification

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the public body which is responsible for regulating data protection in the UK. The ICO’s mission is to “uphold information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals”. Organisations and freelancers all over the UK must register and pay a monthly fee to the ICO if they are processing personal data.

The ICO receives a large volume of emails from customers, which could be large multinationals or small freelancers. The ICO had a need for a machine learning model to categorise the emails for their internal processes.

Fast Data Science used Microsoft Azure ML to train a machine learning model which categorises incoming emails to a number of categories, allowing the ICO to handle them more efficiently.

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The ICO project was challenging in particular because the machine learning model had to be trained on sensitive data, which could not be stored or duplicated. For this reason we had to handle all training data with the utmost care and make sure that it was used only for training the model, was not saved, and did not leave the isolated training environment.