3rd November 2004




Almost three-quarters (73 per cent) of Britain's small businesses agree that the principles behind data protection are a good thing when doing business, according to researchers at the University of Lincoln.


Researchers at the Lincoln Business School sampled the attitudes of small businesses attitudes to data protection in the UK on behalf of the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).


The overall findings revealed that there is a high level of awareness and a broad acceptance of the principles governing data protection.


Eighty per cent of businesses thought that data protection was relevant to them, agreeing 'absolutely' that personal information should be protected and that the principles of data protection are a 'good thing'.


Other highlights of the survey include:


·               99 per cent have heard of the Data Protection Act (DPA)

·               51.6 per cent find compliance quite easy and 24% consider compliance very easy

·               77 per cent agree that data protection is important to their business

·               90.5 per cent believe that security of data and information is important to their business operations

·               91.2 per cent agree that privacy and confidentiality are important to their clients and business operations


"What is the point of holding incorrect information about your customers or having poorly kept records?” asked Assistant commissioner Jonathan Bamford. “It's bad for personal privacy and it's bad for business.


"The Data Protection Act is not in place to hinder business – following its standards not only protects customers and employees but also helps a business to be more effective.


"Small businesses have a mind-boggling array of legislation to comply with and we're trying to cut out the jargon so people know what they should and shouldn't be keeping on file.


“The fact that most businesses do not consider data protection compliance a major effort is a real step towards our aim of integrating data protection into everyday information handling practices across the UK."


Data protection legislation requires businesses to comply with the eight principles of data protection which include making sure that the records they hold on employees and customers are stored securely, used for the right reasons and always correct and up to date.


Additionally, some businesses that process personal information need to register (notify) with the ICO.


Notes to Editors


1.      The Information Commissioner promotes public access to official information and protects personal information. The ICO is an independent body with specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 and other legislation.


2.      The research, conducted by the University of Lincoln, involved in-depth interviews with the owners of 250 businesses across the UK. The research aimed to investigate the impact of data protection legislation among small businesses and their attitudes towards it. Copies of the report can be downloaded from: www.informationcommissioner.gov.uk


3.      Most companies that hold personal data are required to notify their company with the Information Commissioner's Office under the DPA. However, certain exemptions exist for companies that only process personal data for staff administration, accounts, advertising, marketing and public relations. The Information Commissioner is required to maintain a public register of those who have notified under the DPA.


4.      Beware - there are some scam ‘agencies’ operating who are demanding more than the £35 fee to notify. There is no connection between the ICO and any of these self-styled data protection ‘agencies’. If you receive a letter and are unsure if you need to notify call the ICO directly on 01625 545 740.


5.      For further media information contact Pritie Billimoria, Esther- Kate Cheshire, Lucy Thom or James Ford on 020 7282 2960


6.         To contact the University of Lincoln press office call Jez Ashberry, Press and Media Relations Manager, on 01522 886042 or email jashberry@lincoln.ac.uk