Does your business process personal data? If so, are you registered under the ICO? If not, you could be in for some grief. It is the law, under the Data Protection Act 1998, that businesses that partake in this activity are legally required to be registered under the Information Commissioners Office. According to their website, “‘processing’ means obtaining, recording, storing, updating and sharing data and, personal information means any details about a living individual that can be used on its own or with other data to identify them.”
As of the 1st April 2010, the ICO was granted the right to impose fines for any entity who breached the Data Protection Act by not registering under their body. For an entity to breach this act, they must have failed to register as someone who processes personal data.
An entity can range from a sole trader individual, to a Limited company, to a partnership, to an LLP to a charity, it can be anyone! The ICO doesn’t seem to be fussy who they go after, especially if a clear breach has been made and mainly if the entity are unlawfully processing personal data.
So what if you aren’t registered? Well, breach of this and failure to register when you are legally required to is a criminal offence and can mean sanctions are given to those personally responsible for the business, such as Directors. They can also impose fines of up to £500,000 so we aren’t exactly talking little fines!
In a recent case, the ICO won a case against Triforce Recruiting which are a recruiting company for service leavers and ex-forces personnel. They were fined £5,000 for failing to register with the ICO and had to pay additional costs of nearly £500.
Therefore, due to the recent crack downs, we strongly advise that you check your eligibility for the registration. You can check if you are eligible via the ICO Self Assessment tool on their website and this will tell you if you have to register or not. You can also check the status of your current registration or if you have registered previously, the status of a past registration.
Once registered, names and addresses of the entity are published on their website so anyone can do a search for you and find that you aren’t registered when you are supposed to be. This means that you are easily caught if avoiding registering.
Conclusively, our advice would be to check as to whether you are eligible or not, and if so, get registered! Don’t ignore as it could cost you.
ICO Website: https://ico.org.uk/