Privacy czar urges public to enforce Data Protection Act

Privacy czar urges public to enforce Data Protection Act

Use data protection law to protect your personal details, says Information Commissioner

The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has urged people to regain some control over how their personal information is held by exercising their rights under the Data Protection Act.

A nationwide survey carried out by the privacy watchdog showed that the recent high-profile data losses have made eight in ten people more aware of the importance of looking after personal information. But more than half of us (53 per cent) do not trust the Government, banks and other organisations to keep our personal data secure.

Despite this mistrust, the research also showed that seven in ten people feel powerless to remedy this situation.

David Smith, the deputy Information Commisioner said however the public can have a voice and take action against companies and organisations.

He said: “I encourage everyone to check how organisations are storing their personal details. You can use your rights under the Data Protection Act to ensure your data is being properly looked after – use our checklist to ask the right questions.

"Taking care of our personal information has never been so important and, as the research shows, the majority of us are now much more aware of the value of our personal details.

"As more and more personal information is collected, the risk grows that some information will be inaccurate, out of date or end up in the wrong hands.”

The ICO has published a user-friendly guide to data protection rights which includes a data protection checklist.

The checklist outlines the questions we should ask before giving out our details in order to test an organisation’s data protection practices.

David Smith said: “For any of us to have trust in an organisation we must be confident that our information is held securely and processed in line with data protection rules.

"If we all regularly start to ask the right questions, then organisations will respond to public demand and take the protection of our personal information more seriously.

"If organisations fail to recognise the importance of data protection they not only risk losing business. They could also face action from the ICO.”

The nationwide survey suggests recent high-profile data losses have had a significant impact on the way we now manage our personal information. Eighty-eight per cent of us have started checking our bank statements on a more regular basis and 85 per cent now refuse to give out personal details wherever possible.