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Channel hopes ICO fines send the right message

Simon Quicke

With the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) handing out the first fines for data protection breaches the possibility of firms being hit in the pocket by another compliance body has increased the pressure on those responsible for managing user records.

The ICO handed out penalties yesterday to Hertfordshire County Council and recruitment specialist A4e for inappropriately sharing and losing data respectively and it was immediately seized on by the channel as a cause for customers to increase vigilance.

Along with the recently updated PCI measures to protect credit card information the threat of up to half a million in fines from the ICO is now a very serious one and those in the channel operating in the security and data infrastructure space are hoping it will influence customers.

"It's good to see the ICO showing its mettle for the first time, sending a clear message that it is completely unacceptable to be cavalier with private and confidential sensitive information," said Graeme Stewart, public sector business development director at Sophos.

He added that it hoped the fines would "act as a strong deterrent and help ensure that other organisations take their data protection obligations more seriously".

Earlier this summer Sophos surveyed firms and found that there was a ground swell of demand, 87% of those questioned, that felt those losing sensitive data should be forced to disclose it.

Frank Kenney, Ipswitch file transfer's vice president for global strategy, said that the ICO move had to be seen in the wider context of increased compliance activity.

"This is part of a wider trend whereby the penalties for, and consequences of, inadequate security measures are increasingly costly and come from different sources - from the payments card industry, to government and private sector contracts, to activist regulators and the public at large," he said.


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