Report finds that victims of data loss should be compensated

A respected think tank has concluded that businesses would be more likely to adhere to data protection regulations if there was a tangible price placed upon data loss, allowing for those whose personal information is compromised to be reimbursed for their loss.

The Private Lives report from Demos suggests that consumers deserve to be notified if they are affected when a firm or organisation storing their personal data suffers a security breach and that the consumer should then be protected financially by that firm if their data is sold on for fraudulent purposes.

Demos also indicates that consumers might be better served by organisations if they were allowed greater influence over the ways in which their private information can be accessed and utilised by the firms.

The report outlines the idea for a negative league table, showing the hundred businesses considered to be the least secure when it comes to data, based upon prior incidences of loss or misuse.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which has only recently received new powers to issue substantial fines to firms failing to adhere to regulations, is also implicated in the report, as the think tank does not believe that its current powers are sufficient to deter poor practice in UK organisations.

Demos’ Peter Bradwell emphasised the importance of giving the public more control over their personal data in an interview with the Daily Telegraph, pointing out that without increased controls the average citizen would become subject to the restrictions and faults of those databases and organisations involved in the storage of their data.

Mr Bradwell said that the HMRC data loss of 2007, in which over twenty five million people were affected, had undermined levels of personal control over data. Perhaps of still greater concern, the lessons it might have taught businesses as to their vulnerability appear to have been far from heeded.

40 individuals contributed to the report and their opinions were formed based on information provided by experts in the public and private sectors.

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