Insights Information Commissioner’s Office prosecutes and fines employee for taking information about clients to new job.

A former waste disposal employee who left his job, taking information about previous clients with him, has been prosecuted and fined.

Mark Lloyd, who worked at Acorn Waste Management Ltd in Shropshire, emailed the details of 957 clients to his personal email address as he was leaving to start a new role at a rival company.  The documents contained personal information, including the contact details and purchase history of customers and commercially sensitive information.

Appearing at Telford Magistrates’ Court on 26 May, Mr Lloyd pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data and was prosecuted under s 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998.  He was fined £300, ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and £405.98 costs.

Unlawfully obtaining or accessing personal data is a criminal offence under s 55 of the DPA.  Currently, the offence is punishable by way of fine only in a Magistrates Court or a Crown Court.  The ICO continues to call for more effective deterrent sentences, including the threat of prison, to be available to the courts to stop the unlawful use of personal information.

Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO said: “Taking client records that contain personal information to a new job, without permission, is a criminal offence.  Employees need to be aware that documents containing personal data they have produced or worked on belong to their employer and are not theirs to take with them when they leave.  Don’t risk a day in court by being ignorant of the law”.  To read the ICO’s press release and for a link to the Enforcement Notice, click here.