Data Protection - are you ready for the ICO?

Over the past few days the data industry has again been the subject of many a column inch within the national media as the ICO announces a new initiative to crackdown on unscrupulous marketing.

The Information Commissioner will be sending 1,000 letters to 1,000 firms involved in buying and selling consumer data. The letter will demand that they reveal how they adhere to current legislation; how they obtain consumer consent for data usage as well as asking for a list of all the organisations the firm has worked with over the last six months. Anyone found to be flouting the law and operating outside of best practice will be issued with a fine.

A key part of the ICO’s investigations will be looking at how the data is managed and as part of this what suppression files are used, if any.

Suppression is a fundamental principle within the care of data and keeping it adequately maintained; as outlined within the DPA. However, many organisations fail to remove people that have died or people that have moved from databases because they are nervous about removing legitimate prospects and missing out on incremental revenue. Another common misconception is the cost of suppression outweighing its benefits. However, the price of screening against a suppression file is negligible when compared to the money saved by removing records that would have been mistargeted.