The Information Commissioner’s Office (the people who deal with data protection) has recently reported a twist on confidentiality protection.
Employees who intend to leave one job and get employment in a rival organisation have a nasty habit of stealing (for that is what it is) important data such as client lists from their current masters. A couple of clicks on the mouse can send valuable information to an outside PC which is then used for the benefit of the new employer.
Mark Lloyd from Shropshire did just this. The details, which included contact details of customers (957 of them) as well as purchase histories and other material, were sent to his personal computer.
The ICO brought a prosecution under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. This section covers the unlawful obtaining/disclosing/procuring of personal data.
Mr Lloyd pleaded guilty at Telford Magistrates’ Court. Inclusive of fine, costs and victim surcharge he suffered a penalty of about £750.
This prosecution would not affect a civil remedy brought by the original employer. The normal procedure, provided action is taken speedily, would be to apply for an injunction coupled with a claim for damages. However, the prospect of a prosecution might just cause the errant employee to make immediate reparation in order to avoid a conviction and criminal record.