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ICO hits personal data service

Puts stop to free 'people search'

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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has clamped down on a website that was illegally using information from electoral registers.

It has ordered the b4usearch.com to stop using personal information from registers published before 2002, after finding the site in breach of the Data Protection Act.

Electoral registers compiled before that date – when the Representation of the People Act was changed – did not make a distinction between the full register and the edited register. Companies are only able to use the edited register for marketing purposes and cannot use full registers from before 2002.

The ICO issued an enforcement notice against the website, which offers a free "people search" facility, after receiving almost 1,600 complaints about the site. They 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. Both said requests to remove their details had been ignored.

A spokesperson for the ICO said: "There may be other organisations doing the same thing. If they are in breach of the Data Protection Act they can expect the ICO to investigate."

ICO regulatory action head Mick Gorrill said: "We take breaches of the Data Protection Act very seriously. As this case demonstrates, 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. People have an important right under the Data Protection Act to know that their personal information is sufficiently protected."

This article was originally published at Kablenet.

Kablenet's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

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