ICO: Let consumers' fears over use of their data be a warning to firms

The Information Commissioner, who oversees rights to privacy and information in the public interest, has warned businesses they need to inform their customers about how their data is shared.

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The Information Commissioner, who oversees rights to privacy and information in the public interest, has warned businesses they need to inform their customers about how their data is shared.

Commissioner Christopher Graham's warning comes as new figures reveal 85 percent of consumers are concerned about how their personal information is passed or sold to other organisations.

Further, 77 percent of those surveyed were worried that their personal details were not being kept securely by firms.

Graham said: "Providing people with enough information to understand how their details will be used is a basic principle of data protection. While the vast majority of companies are meeting the letter of the law, figures released today show that most people remain concerned about how their information is being shared. This situation is not good for consumers, or for businesses.

“We are set for a new data protection framework in the next three years, but there are still basic things that organisations can be doing today, not only to comply with the current legislation, but also to prepare for the future regulatory landscape.

“Businesses should take the results of our survey as a prompt to address consumers’ concerns and provide clearer information to explain when people’s details will be shared and with whom. Getting these basics right today will not only improve consumer trust but also help a business along the road to future compliance.”

The ICO also published plans for the coming years this morning, in anticipation of the new EU data protection framework, which aims to clarify organisation’s positions on storage and transfer of customer’s data within the UK and internationally.

However, the new manifesto is at danger from lobbying influences that favour big data over big data protection, a European Data Protection advisor alleged.

The eight principles you need to comply with

To comply with the eight principles of the Data Protection Act, all organisations must ensure data is:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection 

The online survey was conducted by ComRes on behalf of the ICO and asked 1,575 UK individuals their views on data protection.