Tag: ICO

ICO fines bank and ad firm for illegal marketing

13. October 2017

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Vanquis Bank and advertising firm Xerpla £125,000 in total.

Vanquis Bank had sent over a million spam text messages and spam emails promoting its credit card. As the recipients had not given consent for such messages, Vanquis Bank’s marketing campaign was deemed illegal and a fine of £75,000 was imposed on the Bradford based bank.

Ad firm Xerpla had sent over a million spam emails promoting various products. The ad firm was fined £50,000 for not having the right consent of the recipients as it was not clear and specific enough.

“People need to be properly informed about what they are consenting to. Telling them their details could be passed to ‘similar organisations’ or ‘selected third parties’ cannot be relied upon as specific consent,” ICO Head of Enforcement Steve Eckersley said, adding, “these firms should have taken responsibility for ensuring they had obtained clear and specific consent for the sending of the messages. They didn’t and that is unacceptable.”

TalkTalk fined by ICO

11. August 2017

According to a Press Release from the Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”), the TalkTalk Telecom Group (“TalkTalk”) was fined for violating the UK Data Protection Act. More than 21.000 customers could be the victims of scams and frauds.

As a result of an investigation in 2014, the ICO fined TalkTalk 100.000 GPB by failing to protect customer data. The breach was possible because of a lack of security of a portal holding a huge amount of customer data. One company with access to the portal was Wipro, an IT services company in India. 40 employees of Wipro had access to personal data of between 25.000 to 50.000 customers. During the investigation, three accounts were found that had unauthorized access to this portal. The ICO determined that TalkTalk did not ensure the security of the customer data held in this portal. There were different reasons:

  • The portal was accessible via any device. There was no restriction on which devices the portal can be accessed.
  • The search engine of the portal allowed wildcards searches (with * as a placeholder to get many results).
  • The search engine allowed up to 500 results per search.

The access rights were too wide-ranging regarding the high amount of customer data held by the portal. The ICO fined TalkTalk because it breached one of the principles of the UK Data Protection Act by not implementing enough technical and organizational measures.

Category: Personal Data · UK
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ICO fines charities with a total of 43,000 GBP

13. December 2016

The ICO just released a statement saying that investigations have shown that the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, RSPCA, and the British Heart Foundation, BHF, did not act according to the Data Protection Act.

The statement explaines that these charities used to screen donors for wealth in order to increase their donations.

“The charities also traced and targeted new or lapsed donors by piecing together personal information obtained from other sources” is stated in the report. Furthermore, “they traded personal details with other charities creating a massive pool of donor data for sale. Donors were not informed of these practices, and so were unable to consent or object.”

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner, fined both charities, the RSPCA 25,000 GBP and BHF 18,000 GBP. She explained that the reason for the fining is also due to the fact that “This widespread disregard for people’s privacy will be a concern to donors, but so will the thought that the contributions people have made to good causes could now be used to pay a regulator’s fine for their charity’s misuse of personal information”.

Category: Data breach · UK
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ICO announces that Facebook agrees to suspend disclosures of personal data from WhatsApp’s users

8. November 2016

After WhatsApp announced in August changes in its privacy policy, several EU DPAs announced monitoring activities in order to ensure the proper use of WhatsApp user’s data. One of these changes on the privacy policy, involved disclosure of personal data of WhatsApp users to Facebook in order to fight spam and improve both, WhatsApp and Facebook’s services.

The EU DPAs had requested WhatsApp not to carry out such disclosures until an adequate level of data protection could be ensured.

On Monday, ICO announced that Facebook agreed to suspend these disclosures. ICO already remarked that consumers were not adequately protected and in most cases a valid consent was not in place. Moreover, it has requested both companies to undertake in writing to inform users about the purposes for which their data will be used. Until now, none of the companies has signed such committment.

If enforcement action takes place, huge fines may be imposed. This is especially relevant upon the applicability of the GDPR from May 2018.

Other EU DPAs, such as Spain, will contact Facebook regarding WhatsApp’s privacy policy.

On the other side, Facebook stated that it only collects the data necessary to offer their services and only a part of this data is shared with Facebook. A Facebook spokeswoman confirmed that WhatsApp’s update complies with applicable law, including UK law and that they will continue the conversations with the ICO regarding the questions raised on the Privacy Policy.

Spains DPA: Investigations due to WhatsApp sharing data with Facebook

10. October 2016

After Hamburg’s Data Protection Commissioner strongly recommended that Facebook should stop processing German data gained from WhatsApp, after the U.K. Information Commissioner, the ICO, also started to investigate the agreement betweent WhatsApp and Facebook and after Italy’s data protection authority, the Garante, has started to look into this issue, now Spain’s data protection authority, the AEPD, raises concerns.

Therefore, Spain’s data protection authority advises users to read the terms and conditions especially before accepting them. Furthermore, it offers guidance on changing the respective settings.

UK Data Protection Commissioner speaks about “Brexit” and the GDPR

5. October 2016

Last week, Elizabeth Denham, held her first speech as UK Information Commissioner (ICO). In this speech she referred, amongst others, to the effects of the Brexit with regard to the application of the GDPR.

Denham remarked that the GDPR involves the modernization of European Data Protection and the necessity of these new rules in order to ensure cross-border commerce and the protection of individuals. As the GDPR may be applicable before the UK has left the EU, she ensured that the ICO will keep on providing guidance and advice on the GDPR.

Furthermore, she stated that even after the UK has formally left the EU, flows of personal information will be still necessary, so that the level of data protection in the UK should be essentially equivalent to the one in the EU. Therefore, she encourages businesses to improve and adapt their practices to the GDPR.

Category: GDPR · UK
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“What’s at stake is individual control of one’s data when they are combined by internet giants”

1. September 2016

The concern due to WhatsApp sharing user information with Facebook is rising, especially in Europe.

As the Wall Street Journal reported, European privacy regulators are investigating WhatsApp’s plan to share the information of their users with its parent company Facebook.

The Article 29 Working Party representing the 28 national data protection authorities released a statement at the beginning of this week saying that its members were following “with great vigilance” the upcoming changes to the privacy policy of WhatsApp due to the fact that the new privacy policy allows WhatsApp to share data with Facebook, whereas the privacy policy only gives existing WhatsApp users the right to opt out of part of the data sharing. Therefore, the Article 29 Working Party concluded “What’s at stake is individual control of one’s data when they are combined by internet giants”.

Furthermore,

  • the ICO also issued a statement last week raising concerns due to the “lack of control”,
  • at the beginning of this week the consumer privacy advocates in the U.S. filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission due to the fact that WhatsApp promised that “nothing would change” when Facebook acquired WhatsAPP two years ago and on top of that
  • the Electronic Privacy Information Center and the Center for Digital Democracy turned to the Federal Trade Commission in order to get the confirmation that the upcoming changes to the privacy policy can be seen as “marketing practices” that are “unfair and deceptive trade practices”.
Category: Article 29 WP · EU · UK · USA
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ICO: Statement on WhatsApp sharing information with Facebook

30. August 2016

The ICO just published a statement relating to the fact that WhatsApp is about to share user information with Facebook.

Elizabeth Denham who was appointed Information Commissioner in July 2016, said that “The changes WhatsApp and Facebook are making will affect a lot of people. Some might consider it’ll give them a better service, others may be concerned by the lack of control.” She continued by saying “Our role is to pull back the curtain on things like this, ensuring that companies are being transparent with the public about how their personal data is being shared, and protecting consumers by making sure the law is being followed.” Denham concluded “We’ve been informed of the changes. Organisations do not need to get prior approval from the ICO to change their approaches, but they do need to stay within data protection laws. We are looking into this.”

During the IAPP Europe Data Protection Congress taking place on the 7-10 of November in Brussels Denham will contibute and also give a speech.

ICO fined Hampshire County Council with 100,000 GBP

19. August 2016

The ICO fined Hampshire County Council with 100,000 GBP due to a data breach.

The fine was the result of missing measures protecting personal information against unauthorized access: Documents containing personal information of more than 100 data subjects were stored in an abandoned building. Furthermore, 45 bags of confidential waste were also found.

Hampshire County Council released a statement saying that “We are very sorry that this incident occurred. Hampshire County Council takes the management and protection of its data very seriously. Accordingly, appropriate procedures were in place at the time, but unfortunately, on this occasion, the process was not fully adhered to. However, at no time was any information disclosed outside of the site”.

Furthermore the statemet points out that “Immediate steps were taken to investigate the matter fully, and remedial action was taken. This has included strengthened and improved processes in the removal of, and destruction of, confidential waste from vacated buildings.”

The statement highlights that Hampshire County Council reported the incident to the ICO as soon as they became aware of it and that they have cooperated fully at all stages of the ICO’s investigation.

Category: Countries · Data breach · UK
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ICO fines Regal Chambers Surgery with 40,000 GBP

12. August 2016

The ICO fines Regal Chambers Surgery with 40,000 GBP due to the fact that personal medical information was handed out.

Regal Chambers Surgery disclosed medical file to a man regarding his son containing 62 pages not only of personal data but also including information on the ex-partner, her parents, and an older child he was not related to. However, although the man requested the records under Section 7 of the Data Protection Act, Regal Chambers had no process implemented to determine whether the data should be handed out.

The ICO’s Head of Enforcement, Steve Eckersley commented that “Most people would be horrified to think the information they entrust to their GP was being treated with anything less than the utmost care. In this case a patient reinforced this, however her pleas went unheeded”.

Category: EU · UK
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