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Beware the Data Punishment Act

20 February 2012

Three Councils have recently been handed significant fines by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998.

Whilst the Information Commissioner and the Department for Communities and Local Government hoped that the ICO’s powers to use monetary penalties would need to be used “only sparingly” the total fines imposed since May 2010 exceed £1M. These latest cases highlight just how serious the ICO takes breaches in the safeguarding arena.

To prevent being caught out it is clear that robust systems need to be put in place to ensure that sensitive information is properly managed and carefully disseminated. The ICO emphasized procedures and training as being fundamental to any Data Protection system.

I wonder what the ICO would have done if the Councils had demonstrated effective systems and shown that these employees had received training on those systems, and the loss was simply a matter of bad luck.

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