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Surprise! Public confidence in data protection declines

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Data security breaches within the private sector are rapidly increasing, the UK's Information Commissioner warned today.

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said that the number of such violations reported to the ICO was up 58 per cent so far in 2011/12, compared with the same period last year.

The watchdog revealed those findings following a survey of 2,500 UK-based individuals and 800 businesses.

A disconnect between the private sector's greater understanding of its data protection responsibilities and a drop in public confidence of the handling of such information was unsurprisingly uncovered in the survey.

“I’m encouraged that the private sector is waking up to its data protection responsibilities, with unprompted awareness of the [Data Protection] Act’s principles higher than ever," said Graham.

"However, the sector does not seem to be putting its knowledge to good use. The fact is that security breaches in the private sector are on the rise, and public confidence in good information handling is declining."

He reminded businesses that a fine of up to £500,000 could be slapped on companies that fail to comply with the Data Protection Act.

Graham also pointed out that a brand's reputation could be damaged "when data is not handled properly".

The ICO, in its report, pinpointed web-based outfits where public concern about personal data was at its highest. It said "almost three-quarters of individuals believe that online companies are not keeping their details secure". ®

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