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Criminal Conviction For Unlawfully Obtaining Client Data

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has prosecuted a former employee of a waste management company who transferred information about company clients before moving to a new job.

Mr Lloyd was prosecuted at Telford Magistrates’ Court for the offence of unlawfully obtaining personal data. Prior to leaving his employment to work for a rival company, Mr Lloyd sent details of over 900 clients to his personal email address. The details contained sensitive information, such as contact details and the purchase history of customers.

The prosecution was brought under section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. My Lloyd pled guilty to unlawfully obtaining personal data and was fined £300 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and £405.98 in costs.

It is not the first time that an individual has been prosecuted for unlawfully obtaining personal data; the ICO has previously stated that “anyone who tries to unlawfully obtain, disclose or sell personal data should expect to see themselves hauled before the courts”. 

This prosecution should serve as a reminder to employees that, in transferring confidential material that contains personal information, they may be committing a criminal offence as well as breaching their employment contract. This is also welcome news for businesses (including recruiters), who may wish to report to the ICO any unauthorised sharing of information by former employees. 

This bulletin is for general guidance purposes only and should not be used for any other purpose.

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