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Monday
Dec142009

Valuable Data and Weak Deterrents Spell Danger

Revelations recently over the sale of customers data by phone giant T-Mobile (subsidiary of Deutsche Telekom and Britain's fourth-biggest mobile phone provider with 16.6 million customers), has drawn attention to the increasingly tricky subject of data protection, the rights of consumers and what the UK Government and businesses are doing to enforce legislation.

The T-Mobile investigation is only the latest in a long list of data related scandals including the posting of the BNP membership on a website, various mislaid NHS CDs as well as lost Ministry of Defence memory sticks and laptops.

Involving the alleged sales of millions of records from thousands of customers, the latest scandal comes hot on the heels of a demand from the new UK Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, to toughen up penalties. Graham said that existing penalties under the Data Protection Act are "pathetic". To make matters worse, T-Mobile who referred to the incident as 'deeply regrettable,' then went on to claim that the practice is in fact a problem for the whole industry. It would appear that selling of data for 'substantial sums' is commonplace.

With the ICO estimating that for £75 it is possible to trace the name and address of a telephone caller from their phone number and for £500 check someone's criminal record, the figures quickly add up. Data is a lucrative business.

In many ways T-Mobile's is a shocking admission and in other ways not. As people lead increasingly connected lives, the massive amount of personal data stored on computers is ripe for abuse and clearly there's plenty of money to be made.

The real surprise is that up until now the range of penalties available to the judiciary is so meagre. As things stand the maximum punishment is only £5000. Mr Graham is not a happy man: 'The existing paltry fines… are simply not enough to deter people from engaging in this lucrative criminal activity. The threat of jail, not fines, will prove a stronger deterrent.' 

To this end the ICO is pushing for custodial sentences, not just fines, for breaches of data-protection law. The T-Mobile case represents part of the their submission to a Ministry of Justice inquiry into the use of prison for the known or reckless misuse of personal data.

Though the T-Mobile incident is a systemic abuse and allegedly involved only a single rogue employee, the message is clear. Data is valuable and deterrents are currently extremely weak. One way or another, as an employer or member of the public we are all threatened by the misuse of supposedly secure, protected data.

What about your organisation? Are you up to speed on data protection and fully compliant with data-protection legislation where you are?  

 



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References (3)

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  • Response
    Football is genuinely 1 of the largest sports in America. It has a important following.
  • Response
    Valuable Data and Weak Deterrents Spell Danger - Tax, Legal & Business News from London - St Matthew Accountants London
  • Response
    Response: TubeMate Apk 2.2.6

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