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ICO raids and shuts builder blacklist firm

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The Information Commissioner's Office has made its first use of an Enforcement Notice with a seven day deadline to shut down a Droitwich firm which ran an illegal database of building staff.

The company, the Consulting Association, owned by Ian Kerr, ran the database for over 15 years. It contained entries on 3,213 building workers and was accessed by over 40 construction companies including many household names.

Entries included information on workers' personal relationships, union activities and previous employment. Some information was up to 30 years old.

Building companies would send Kerr a list of potential staff members and he would check it against his blacklist. Companies paid annual subscriptions of £3,000, plus £2.20 for each record checked.

David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, said: “We will prosecute Mr Kerr and we are also considering what regulatory action to take against construction firms who have been using the system. I remind business leaders that they must take their obligations under the Data Protection Act seriously. Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity.”

Not only was the information held without people's consent, but the existence of the database was repeatedly denied.

The investigation was begun after an article in the Guardian last June.

Companies using the service included several Amec firms, Balfour Beatty, Costain UK Ltd, Laing O'Rourke, Sir Robert McAlpine Ltd and Skanska. Ex-members included G Wimpey Ltd, John Mowlem Ltd, Lovell Construction(UK) Ltd and Taylor Woodrow Construction Ltd. ®

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