ICO shuts down firm for selling private data

A company suspected of selling confidential data that allowed building firms to vet employees for union activity has been raided and shut down by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

According to the ICO, some of the UK’s largest construction companies, including Taylor Woodrow and Balfour Beatty, employed the Consultancy Association’s services.

The data protection watchdog raided the company’s offices in Droitwich, Worcestershire, and found a database containing the personal histories – including union activities and employment records – of 3,213 construction workers, it said.

The ICO says it also found evidence that the company sold access to this database for a £3,000 annual subscription.

The organisation has the power to raid private companies as long as it has ‘reasonable cause’ to believe they are in breach of the Data Protection Act. It has recommended an amendment to the controversial Coroners and Justice Bill that would expand its ability to inspect organisations’ premises without consent.

Pete Swabey

Pete Swabey

Pete was Editor of Information Age and head of technology research for Vitesse Media plc from 2005 to 2013, before moving on to be Senior Editor and then Editorial Director at The Economist Intelligence...

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