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OFT fingers Bristol man over misleading data protection ad

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A Bristol businessman has been fingered by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for misleading small businesses over data protection legislation.

Peter Hardy - who was involved with an outfit called "Data Protection Registration Department" based in Emersons Green, Bristol - has given written assurances to the OFT that he will no longer issue misleading ads concerning compliance with the Data Protection Act 1998.

The letters gave the impression that they came from an official government body (using a logo similar to the Information Commissioner's official mark), thus misleading many recipients, who thought they had to cough up £49 to comply with the rules.

The mailshots failed to explain that not all businesses have to register with the Information Commissioner. While most businesses processing personal data are required by law to notify the Information Commissioner, many small businesses that process personal data for limited purposes are exempt. And even if they did have to register with the Information Commissioner, the fee is only £35 if SMEs go direct.

Said OFT Executive Director Penny Boys: "We have taken action against a number of misleading data protection mailings and will continue to work closely with the Information Commissioner, trading standards departments and the police to stop those who make deceptive claims. Businesses should contact the Information Commissioner if they are in any doubt about their obligations to notify under the Data Protection Act." ®

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