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Data Protection Act – Is Your Agency Registered?

As a matter of course we always advise our agents that they should register with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for Data Protection Purposes if they store their customer's details.

Last month we came across a story about an Estate Agent who failed to register with the ICO. In December 2011 an estate agent in Gwynedd, Wales was prosecuted by the ICO for failing to notify them that his business was processing personal data. The estate agent was ordered to pay £614 towards prosecution costs and was given a conditional discharge of 6 months.

The estate agent was prosecuted under section 17 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This act requires every organisation or person who is processing personal information in an automated form to notify, unless they are exempt. Failure to notify the ICO of this is a criminal offence and could lead to a fine of up to £5,000 in a Magistrates Court or unlimited fines in a Crown Court.

Had the estate agent notified the ICO at an earlier date he would only be £35 out of pocket (the fee for most businesses) and could have avoided a criminal record.

The ICO advises that anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which makes sure personal information is:

  • Fairly & 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

Any organisation who holds their client's personal information on record should really consider registering with the ICO as a matter of course. More information can be found at:

Posted By Admin on Friday, January 13, 2012 | Type: Blog

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