ICO shows no mercy on data protection as GDPR countdown continues
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has again wielded its teeth by fining Basildon Council £150,000 for publishing the personal information of a family online.
The council breached the Data Protection Act by publishing the data in publicly available planning application documents, incurring the wrath of the ICO less than a month after it fined Keurboom Communications Ltd $400,000 for carrying out nearly 100 million nuisance calls.
Earlier this year the regulator also handed out a £150,000 fine to Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance (RSA) after it lost a hard drive containing the personal information of nearly 60,000 customers.
The ICO found that the council received a written statement in support of a householder’s planning application which contained sensitive information relating to a traveller family who had been living on the site.
Particular references were made to the family’s disability requirements, including mental health issues, the names and ages of all the family members and the location of their home.
Basildon council published the statement on its online portal without removing the personal data, resulting in a breach of data protection procedures.
“This was a serious incident in which highly sensitive personal data, including medical information, was made publicly available,” said ICO enforcement manager Sally Anne Poole. “Planning applications in themselves can be controversial and emotive, so to include such sensitive information and leave it out there for all to see for several weeks is simply unacceptable.”
Scrutiny of cases such as this will continue to increase over the coming months, with less than a year to go until Global Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect across the European Union.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham recently called for businesses to restore trust with GDPR and it’s clear that organisations still have plenty of work to do to make themselves compliant within the timeframe.
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