by Nick Lowe
The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has announced the findings of its annual track survey*. The new figures reveal that almost 75 percent of businesses surveyed know that the Data Protection Act requires them to keep personal information secure, an increase of 26 percent on 2010’s findings. However, reflecting a fall in public confidence, less than half of the people surveyed believe that organisations process their data in a fair and proper manner. The survey also found that the number of data breaches in the private sector is rising, with 58 percent more breaches reported to the ICO so far in 2011/2012 than in the same period last year.
The ICO’s research highlights some interesting, albeit unsurprising, trends surrounding data protection today in the UK. Whilst a greater proportion of businesses are aware of the data protection obligations placed on them, the public is less confident than ever of these businesses’ ability to safeguard their information.
Indeed, why should the public have any faith in the existing practices employed by organisations, when news report after news report highlights a series of serious data protection failings? Over the last few months we’ve seen a plethora of NHS Trusts hit the headlines over the loss of substantial and confidential patient information. Throw into that previous reports of the police snooping on citizen’s personal details and it’s not exactly going to do much to bolster public confidence in the state of data protection today.
Whilst we should welcome the fact that the report demonstrates an increase in awareness surrounding data protection, awareness on its own is not going to obliterate this growing problem. What’s needed is action and organisations need to put in place the requisite security tools to ensure that they can properly enforce a sound and water-tight data protection policy going forward.