October 11, 2007

SMEs unsure of data protection responsibilities

by Jan Harris

SMEs unsure of data protection responsibilities
New research commissioned by Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), finds that small and medium-sized enterprises are less aware of the principles of the Data Protection Act than larger organisations.

Less than a quarter of the SMEs surveyed were aware that they are required to keep customer information accurate and up to date under the Act, and half of those surveyed did not recognise the importance of keeping personal information secure.

Speaking at the Privacy and Data Protection conference, Information commissioner, Mr Richard Thomas, said that the findings are a “considerable concern”, in light of the increase in identity fraud.

Mr Thomas said that businesses must take their responsibility to protect personal information seriously.

The ICO has published official guidelines for SMEs, on how staff should be trained to handle personal information properly.

The guidelines are part of a series of Good Practice Notes published by the ICO.

Mr Thomas said that the ICO would take action against businesses which failed to protect customer information.

The survey was carried out this summer and involved 813 organisations in the UK.

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