Data Protection Failings Prove Costly
12 October 2016
It is essential for employers to ensure that personal data they hold is protected and kept secure. This includes information relating to employees, suppliers, customers and various other individuals. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has recently imposed fines on several organisations for data breaches.
One such case hit the headlines and involved a Nursing Home in Northern Ireland. A member of staff took an unencrypted work laptop home which contained personal information relating to employees and residents. This laptop was subsequently stolen during an overnight burglary. The ICO has declared the provisions the Nursing Home had in place regarding data protection were “totally inadequate”. A fine of £15,000 was levied against the Home, but with the additional statement that this fine would have been “much larger” if the organisation was bigger and able to sustain a greater sanction.
Other recent cases where the ICO have imposed fines include a £40,000 fine against a surgery who released information to a patient’s estranged ex-partner and a six figure fine for Hampshire County Council after the failure to secure data when decommissioning a disused building.
All of these instances could have been avoided if the organisations in question had implemented and, more importantly, abided by a sound Data Protection Policy which had been tailored to ensure that personal data is protected. A policy such as this should be drafted so as to address any issues that may arise as a result of the employer’s business. For instance, where it is necessary for work laptops to be removed from the premises, it essential that these can be encrypted so as to avoid the unauthorised access to personal information.
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