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Does your organisation manage the personal data of others in a lawful manner?

The Data Protection Act has been law in Britain for over a quarter of a century. With the level of fines for serious offences now increased to £500,000 per offence, and with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) soon to be given the power to inspect, on demand, the data processes of businesses, it is hard to see how any British business can claim to not understand the importance of the Act. A fine of £500,000 to any business, and especially during the current economic situation, could be devastating.

However, a recent survey by the firm Shred-it has confirmed that ‘around 50% of SME owners in the UK are ignoring the possible risks of data security through data loss in the workplace’.

Coupled with this is the fact the ‘68% of 1,000 small businesses in the UK either do not provide sufficient training on data security guidelines (30%) or only inform their staff at the time it is needed (38%)’.

For the past few years the ICO has focussed their efforts on the public sector and we have all seen major breaches by HMRC, Councils, the NHS, schools, Government and universities. Since January 2010 the ICO has issued £370,000 in fines to just four Councils. But the focus is changing – more recently on the back of data breaches, Zurich was fined £2.3 million, Sony has seen its share price fall and A4E Limited was fined £60,000.

More importantly, the ICO has started looking into specific industry sectors to assess their standard of data management. Organisations in telecoms, the legal profession, construction, and estate agency have all recently been fined for a range of data protection offences, and the ICO has announced that he intends to scrutinise the care sector. There is a clear message here and a wakeup call to businesses of every size up and down the United Kingdom.

Absolute Data is a specialist data protection and privacy consulting firm based in Harrogate that provides data management solutions to organisations of any status or size. Our most recent addition to the services we provide is DataWise; a service designed specifically for small businesses. For a low fixed fee, our team of experts is on hand to put all of the necessary systems and procedures in place to ensure legal compliance. With Absolute Data as your outsourced data protection and privacy team, you can concentrate on running your business; rest assured and confident that you can demonstrate legal compliance. We have other bespoke compliance packages available too, DataCheck and DataSure – both of which ensure legal compliance, but have added services such as auditing and advice on specific and complex data issues.

Our aim is to assist organisations with the challenges that data governance and privacy management bring, and take away the pressures and stresses that undoubtedly come with managing such a minefield. We’d like to talk to organisations about how we can help them, in a cost and time effective way.