Thursday, 8 December 2016

New UK Information Commissioner shows her teeth issuing fines for wealth screening to RSPCA and BHF

What on earth has been going on at the RSPCA ? Assumed to be a quiet backwater for helping out animals in distress it became a vehicle for what looked like politically motivated criminal cases and now has been found to have been breaking the law with very aggressive data profiling or "wealth screening" without consent in order to generate income.

All credit to Elizabeth Denning, the new head of the  ICO, for the bravery to take this organisation on as they would not immediately fit into the category of data villain.

One of the areas of breach was the sharing of data in a group with others (unidentified) called "reciprocate". Effectively when agreeing to share data (or not) with the RSPCA they took it as carte blanche to share your personal data with everyone.

Perhaps up to now Data Protection has been seen as a box ticking exercise with many government agencies relying on blanket exemptions and busily building databases.

However as the Alan Lord case showed there are no blanket exemptions and each case must be considered on its merits. The rights of data subjects to request information via a subject access request will need to be taken even more seriously now.

A new attitude at the ICO should send a warning shot across the bows of both government and big business who have been harvesting and processing personal data without getting proper consent and being clear about the purpose.

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