MP Committee Wants Stricter Punishments on Misuse of Customer Data

A group of influential MPs are calling for tougher measures against misusing customer data by selling it without permission.

A Justice Committee report on the theft of personal data asserts that the maximum £5,000 penalty that magistrates can impose under the Data Protection Act is not enough to deter "serious offences that can cause great harm".

The Committee wants Justice Minister Ken Clarke to introduce powers to hand out custodial sentences already agreed by Parliament to executives at companies found guilty of selling customer's data.

The report also stresses that the detection of potential misuses is hampered because the Information Commissioner does not have the power to force companies to undergo information audits.

Sir Alan Beith, Chair of the Justice Committee, commented: "Ministers must examine how to enable the Commissioner to investigate properly without increasing the regulatory burden on business or the public sector."

The MP Committee has also backed Government calls to ban referral fees on personal injury cases i.e. money paid by lawyers for data on drivers involved in accidents.

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