PL&B UK E-news, Issue 53

1. Government wants to relax existing data sharing laws

The Government announced, on 7th February, that it plans to amend the law to enable the imposition of prison sentences for trading in - or deliberately misusing - personal data, i.e. section 55 offences of the Data Protection Act (DPA).

Section 55 makes it a criminal offence to obtain personal data from data controllers without their consent, and selling data that has been illegally obtained.The Government intends to amend section 60 of the DPA to increase the penalties available to the Courts. In addition to the current fines, section 60 will allow for up to six months imprisonment on conviction in a Magistrates Court, and up to two years of imprisonment on conviction in a Crown Court.

The Information Commissioner, Richard Thomas, said: “I am delighted the Government has decided to adopt my proposals to introduce tougher penalties to deter people from engaging in the deliberate and wilful misuse of personal information....A custodial sentence will act as a deterrent for individuals who are tempted to obtain or disclose personal information unlawfully."

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