OFT should help firms

The Data Protection Act is already causing enough headaches for UK businesses. So it is unforgivable that red tape at the Office...

The Data Protection Act is already causing enough headaches for UK businesses. So it is unforgivable that red tape at the Office of Fair Trading is holding up effective action against unscrupulous firms that are exploiting confusion about the Act to milk small and medium-sized businesses.

Across the country businesses are receiving official-looking documents demanding £95 or more to register them under the Act, with the threat of legal action if they fail to cough up.

In fact, registration only costs £35 and many firms do not have to register. The Office of Fair Trading knows about many of the culprits, but is not proactively handing over information to the police to enable them to take action.

Insiders say this is simply another example of a civil service culture that views information as something to be hoarded and kept secret, rather than shared.

The Office of Fair Trading should stop this foolishness and immediately give the police the information they need to tackle the problem.

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