The Information Commissioner’s Office has prosecuted a former employee of a Company who transferred information about company clients to his personal email address before moving to a new job. The employee was working at a waste management company and he emailed himself details of over 950 clients. The information was commercially sensitive and included the personal data of clients’ in the form of contact details and their purchase history.
The ICO brought the prosecution was under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. The employee pleaded guilty at the Magistrates’ Court to unlawfully obtaining personal data. Whilst the fine was only £300, he also paid over £400 in costs and £30 as a victim surcharge to the Company. The commercial value of the data no doubt exceeded the value of the fines/costs but this nevertheless serves as a useful tool in the employer’s kit for dealing with rogue employees as an alternative or addition to the injunction/damages proceedings which can be costly. For the employee, the fines are hardly likely to be a deterrent but the impact of a criminal conviction could be very costly.