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InfoLaw Update - July 2013

In this month's InfoLaw Update information law specialist Natalie Ruane focuses on the importance of good commerical data handling.

The Commercial Imperative of Good Data Handling

Speaking at the launch of the ICO’s annual report in June, The Information Commissioner has claimed that 2013 will be the year that organisations realise the commercial imperative of handling customer data properly.Christopher Graham highlighted that consumers have a strong awareness of how their data should be handled and how this affects their relationship with businesses.  97% of the public are concerned that organisations will pass or sell on their personal details.  More than 50% of customers consider details of the products that they buy to be personal data about them.

Yet despite these concerns, only 10% of businesses are aware of the legal limitations on how they can use customers’ personal data.  The Information Commissioner commented on two key areas that The Information Commissioner’s Office has been focusing on in the past twelve months which is education and empowerment.  They consider that that work is having a real impact on the public’s awareness of their rights and it is empowering people to demand more in terms of their personal data.  Consumers are expecting organisations to handle their personal data in a legally compliant manner.  Christopher Graham said “I think 2013 is the year that organisations will realise the commercial imperative of properly handling customer data.  The stats we’ve seen about public concern about personal data show that, as does a company the size of Microsoft choosing privacy as a theme of a national advertising campaign. The message to business is simple: consumers understand the value of their personal data and they expect you to too."

The annual report from The Information Commissioner’s Office highlights that there has been a 45% increase in cases looked at by their Civil Enforcement Team.  £2.6 million in fines has been imposed on twenty-three organisations during the financial year 2012/13.  There have also been 225,138 calls received by the ICO’s helpline.  With consumer awareness on the increase and more guidance than ever before being published by the ICO, it is imperative  that businesses make their staff aware of the importance of handling customer personal data and ensure that it is handled legally and correctly to ensure customer confidence in the organisation.

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Monday 15th July 2013
Categorised: Information Law

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