BT steps up data protection compliance

British Telecom is using cutting-edge data quality tools to ensure its compliance with the Data Protection Act.

British Telecom is using cutting-edge data quality tools to ensure its compliance with the Data Protection Act.

BT will use Avellino Discovery tools on many of its 700 electronic systems, which contain billions of customer records, to comply with the Data Protection Act, improve data quality and consolidate IT systems.

Nigel Turner, manager of data quality at BT Computing Partners, said: "Data quality is an ongoing process and Avellino is one of a number of tools that we believe will make the process easier. It is not just about technology - you need to have policies in place that keep data of a high quality."

BT is one of the few companies to have a board member responsible for data quality and systems. Turner told that organisations often undervalue data quality and compliance with data protection legislation.

"At a recent conference on data protection we saw utility and finance companies, along with big consultancies. We didn't see much representation from the wider business community, and this is a bit of a worry," Turner said.

Avellino has won contracts in recent months with BSkyB, RAC and Royal Sun Alliance.

Rupert Battcock, an IT lawyer at Nabarro Nathanson, praised BT's efforts. "Utility companies have had issues in the past as they've expanded into other markets and there have been some enforcement actions against them under the old Data Protection Act."

However, he warned that many businesses still misunderstand their obligations under the Data Protection Act. There have been no "high-profile" test cases of the new Data Protection Act, but Battcock said companies that ignore the Act are leaving themselves open to legal action.



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