Feeds

ICO issues first website enforcement order

Search site breaches data protection laws

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

The operator of a website designed to allow searches for people's contact details has been issued with an enforcement order by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). It is the first time the ICO has issued an order over a website.

The ICO says that B4U, a Birmingham company which performs searches for information on individuals at b4usearch.com, is in breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA). B4U says it has not received any notification of an order.

The ICO says B4U has breached the Act by using electoral roll data from before 2002. After 2002, people filling in an electoral roll form could choose to be excluded from the public register. The ICO also says the company ignored requests from individuals for their details to be removed, which is in contravention of the Act.

"We will take action against organisations that don't process personal information in line with the requirements of the Act and cause significant concern to individuals," said Mick Gorrill, head of regulatory action at the ICO. "People have an important right under the Data Protection Act to know that their personal information is sufficiently protected."

The ICO said that it had received 1,600 complaints about the site, many saying that B4U did not remove their personal details when requested.

B4U owner Raj Banga said no notice has been received, and the company has never refused anyone a request for data removal. "We don't refuse anyone removal from the site, that has never happened," said Banga. He said that at one point requests for removal were so numerous that they were taking up to three weeks to process, but that none was refused.

"People who complained to the ICO about b4usearch.com included a police officer whose family's names and addresses, along with a map to their house, appeared on the website and an individual who had previously been a victim of identity fraud," an ICO statement said. "Both were concerned about the availability of their personal information and the fact that their requests to b4usearch.com asking for their details to be removed had been ignored."

The B4U website says that written requests for removal will take five days to process and details a premium rate fax line which costs £1.50 per minute which can be used for more immediate removals.

"Some people were looking for much faster removals so we brought in the premium rate fax line. We had to do that because I had to employ more people to process them and the company can only sustain that loss for so long," he said.

Banga said any rulings the company does receive will be adhered to. "We have been co-operative with the ICO and we are not in a position to argue with them," he said. "We are not the type of company to do that. If something is illegal, then we can't do it."

The ICO's statement said because of B4U's breaches of the DPA, "damage or distress to individuals was likely to have been caused by information being processed in this way". A spokesman confirmed that this could open the way to a civil case against B4U for damages, but that no such case had yet been brought.

"I can't comment on whether there will be a case, but all this information has been readily available for years, this is information you can find in your local library," said Banga.

Copyright © 2006, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Phones 4u slips into administration after EE cuts ties with Brit mobe retailer
More than 5,500 jobs could be axed if rescue mission fails
Israeli spies rebel over mass-snooping on innocent Palestinians
'Disciplinary treatment will be sharp and clear' vow spy-chiefs
Apple CEO Tim Cook: TV is TERRIBLE and stuck in the 1970s
The iKing thinks telly is far too fiddly and ugly – basically, iTunes
Huawei ditches new Windows Phone mobe plans, blames poor sales
Giganto mobe firm slams door shut on Microsoft. OH DEAR
Phones 4u website DIES as wounded mobe retailer struggles to stay above water
Founder blames 'ruthless network partners' for implosion
Found inside ISIS terror chap's laptop: CELINE DION tunes
REPORT: Stash of terrorist material found in Syria Dell box
Show us your Five-Eyes SECRETS says Privacy International
Refusal to disclose GCHQ canteen menus and prices triggers Euro Human Rights Court action
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
Saudi Petroleum chooses Tegile storage solution
A storage solution that addresses company growth and performance for business-critical applications of caseware archive and search along with other key operational systems.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.