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Most UK small businesses are behind the principles of data protection. A new survey, released by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), shows that most respondents were aware of data protection issues, with 80 per cent believing them to be relevant to their business.

Small businesses seem well aware of the importance of data protection, with 91 per cent agreeing that privacy and confidentiality are important to their clients and business operations.

Data protection legislation requires businesses to comply with eight principles of security. Businesses must make sure customer and employee records are stored securely, and most firms must register with the ICO when processing personal information.

Encouragingly, almost 52 per cent of business respondents found it easy to comply with the Data Protection Act.

Jonathan Bamford, assistant commissioner at the ICO, said: "Small businesses have a mind boggling array of legislation to comply with and we're trying to cut out the jargon so people know what they should and shouldn't be keeping on file.

"The fact that most businesses do not consider data protection compliance a major effort, is a real step towards our aim of integrating data protection into everyday information handling practices across the UK."

However, the minority of businesses may be more apprehensive about data protection procedures. The ICO has warned of 'scam agencies' operating in the sector, who demand more than the £35 fee to use their data protection services.

You can check if you are affected by the Data Protection Act 1998 by visiting the IC's website, or by calling the the notification helpline on 0870 9027 522.

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