ICO Power Extension Proposals a Step Forward

Posted: November 18, 2009

This article was published in ProSecurity Zone

Increasing the powers of the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK will drive companies to be more diligent in the handling of waste material containing confidential data believes Shred-it.

New proposals to extend the powers of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), enabling it to fine companies breaching the Data Protection Act, have been praised by Shred-it, the UK's leading document destruction company, as a step forward for UK data security practices.

Under the proposals outlined by the Ministry of Justice on 12th November, organisations that lose individuals' data could face a fine of up to £500,000, a penalty set to be no more than 10 per cent of the highest annual turnover of a small company.

Currently the ICO has the power to fine organisations up to £5,000 for serious breaches of the Data Protection Act, but these new measures are expected to act as an effective deterrent to improve data security within the UK economy.

Robert Guice, Executive Vice President of Shred-it, said: "With fraud on the rise amidst the ongoing recession, data security is now more important than ever for UK businesses looking to protect their financial standing and corporate reputation. The potential costs of a data security breach could run into millions of pounds, leading to dented credit ratings, angry or lost customers and irreparable damage to client trust."

"These new measures from the Ministry of Justice are a positive step forward for UK data security standards, and reflect the serious impact that improper data and document management can have on business stability for the economy as a whole."

According to Shred-it, to avoid falling victim to data fraud, UK businesses need to be vigilant about their document management procedures, focusing not only on confidential information stored electronically, but also paper based documentation.

Robert Guice continued: "Although the electronic transfer and exchange of confidential information is now an everyday occurrence, the printing of documents is still standard practice in most workplaces."

"For the majority of businesses, firewalls are considered a must-have tool to safeguard sensitive electronic data, but the information contained in printed documents is often easier to access than the originals saved on a computer, representing a significant risk to business security if they ever fall into the wrong hands."

"Invoices, company reports, payroll information, customer lists and even complaints are all highly confidential, and therefore need to be securely destroyed, but are far too often simply thrown in the bin by employees who do not realise their importance."

"Implementing a secure document destruction programme is the safest way to ensure all of your sensitive corporate information is completely destroyed, as a means of avoiding this type of data security breach, and of course the fines which may result."

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