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July 27, 2006 | Glyn Wintle

Consultation on penalties for breaching the DPA

Baroness Ashton has published a consultation paper on proposed custodial penalties for breaches of Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, which deals with unlawful obtaining of personal data. The main questions asked are should the maximum fine be raised? and is a jail sentence of up to 2 years the right length?.

“I have today published a consultation paper on proposed custodial penalties for breaches of Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. In an environment where concerns about identity fraud are growing and where the widespread use and exchange of data are increasingly important to the economy and to society as a whole, it is essential for people to be confident that their personal data will not be wilfully or recklessly abused. We are determined that the regulatory regime properly reflects the risks that come with greater data use. The aim of this proposal is to provide an appropriate and effective level of deterrent for those who seek to profit from the illegal trade in personal information. We welcome the recent report by the Information Commissioner, What price privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information, which has been an extremely valuable contribution on this issue and we are responding positively to the report's recommendations. We are seeking views on whether the proposed sanctions would act as an effective deterrent to those who deliberately or recklessly misuse personal information. Copies have been placed in the Printed Paper Office, Vote Office and Libraries of both Houses."

Baroness Ashton of Upholland (Parliamentary Under-Secretary, Department for Constitutional Affairs)Office

The questions are non-technical and easy for anyone to understand. If you would like participate, ORG has a wiki page that we are encouraging people to edit Data Protection Act Consultation.

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