Information Commissioner launches crackdown

The Information Commissioner’s Office is to target accountancy firms in a crackdown on breaches of the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is to target accountancy firms in a crackdown on breaches of the Data Protection Act.

The legislation requires data controllers to notify the ICO, at a cost of £35 a year, to enable the watchdog to maintain a public register data controllers.

But the ICO says “only a minority” of accountants have notified, although failure to do so is a breach of the act that can result in a fine of up to £5,000.

The move comes after the successful prosecution of a solicitor under the act in March. Senior partner Ralph Harold Donner was taken to court after his firm, Feld Mackay and Donner, failed to notify. Following a guilty plea at a magistrates court, he was fined £3,150 and ordered to pay £3,500 costs. Although the fine was reduced on appeal to £1,000 the full legal costs were upheld.

An ICO spokesperson said, “Our research shows that only 45-50% of accountants have notified us. Failure to notify us once a year is an offence, but we'll try to make it as easy as possible for firms who are late in doing so. But if there is no notification at all, we will enforce the law.”

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