Too many consumers being denied access to their information says ICO
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Issued 27 January 2012
Too many consumers are being denied the
right to access the information that companies or public bodies hold
about them, Information Commissioner, Christopher Graham, said today.
Speaking on the eve of the 6th
annual European Data Protection Day, Mr Graham said that complaints
about mishandled subject access requests in the last financial year
accounted for over a third (38%) of the ICO’s total data protection
In order to resolve this issue, the ICO has today launched an
awareness-raising campaign called Access Aware.
Information Commissioner, Christopher
“Organisations that handle personal
information need to remember that customer records are not simply their
property - the individuals who do business with them also have rights.
We are seeing far too many complaints that could easily have been
avoided if they’d been given serious and timely consideration.
“The result of mishandling requests is not
simply a blip on customer service satisfaction levels, it can cause
individuals a great deal of upset. The people who are making these
requests are not doing it for fun; the vast majority are seeking
resolutions to real problems – such as being refused credit or making
important decisions about their health. I hope businesses and bodies
that handle personal data use European Data Protection Day as a prompt
to think about ways to improve their subject access request handling.
Our Access Aware materials have been
designed to help them do just that.”
one of the first outcomes of the ICO’s information rights priority
work. Banking and finance companies as well as health bodies have been
identified as the worst performing sectors in relation to handling
subject access requests. A more general problem around access to
employee records has also been noted across all sectors.
The sector that continues to generate the
most complaints about subject access requests is lenders. In 2010/11,
over a third (34%) of completed data protection specific complaints
concerning financial institutions were about mishandled subject access
Health bodies and policing and crime
organisations have also continued to generate a high level of subject
access related complaints. In 2010/11, almost half (45%) of data
protection specific complaints about health bodies concerned mishandled
requests. In the same year, 34% of data protection specific complaints
in the policing and criminal justice sector were about subject access.
The Access Aware
campaign aims to promote awareness of what a subject
access request looks like and what to do if
one is received. Requests can be received by anyone working in an
organisation and can take many forms – from a detailed email asking for
specific information to a single sentence within a more general
complaint letter. Requests must be answered within 40 calendar days.
Some organisations may choose to charge a
fee for handling a subject access request. The maximum fee that most
organisations can charge is £10.
Further guidance and information on subject
access requests is available on the ICO’s website here: http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_organisations/data_protection/the_guide/principle_6/access_to_personal_data.aspx
More information on the Access
Aware campaign is available on the ICO’s website here:
If you need more information, please contact
the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070 or visit the website at: www.ico.gov.uk.
About the Author
The Information Commissioner’s Office is the UK’s
independent authority set up to uphold information rights in the public
interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for
individuals. We do this by promoting good practice, ruling on
complaints, providing information to individuals and organisations and
taking appropriate action when the law is broken.
The ICO enforces and oversees the following
- Data Protection Act 1998
- Freedom of Information Act 2000
- Privacy and Electronic Communications
- Environmental Information Regulations
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2012-01-31 13:11:27 in Business Articles
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