Fresh call to bang up data thieves

Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has repeated calls for tougher sentences for personal data thieves – including time behind bars – after a Barclays’ employee was fined just £500 for accessing the bank records of her partner’s ex-wife.
Lara Davies will pay £500, a £15 victim surcharge and £1,410.80 in prosecution costs in line with an order by Derby Crown Court.
She worked for Barclays and at the time she accessed information from the statements, her partner was involved in a legal dispute over the terms of a divorce settlement. But when eBay transactions were raised in a meeting between the estranged couple, the ex-wife became suspicious that her account had been viewed.
Barclays, where Davies worked, were contacted, and when they investigated the matter she left her job. She pleaded guilty to 11 offences under section 55 of the Data Protection Act.
Graham said: “High street bank staff have access to financial information on a day-to-day basis, and are expected to treat that privilege with professionalism. When that trust is abused, and the personal data they access is misused, the law is very clear, as this case has shown.
“The only surprise here is that – in an age where our personal information is being stored and accessed by more organisations than ever – the penalties for abusing the system are so inadequate.
“This case illustrates the need for more effective deterrent sentences to be available to the courts, as recommended most recently by Lord Justice Leveson,” said Graham. “Unlawful access to personal information is all too easy and all too common – and these days it does not seem to have much to do with the press.”
This time last year, Graham blasted the judiciary after one criminal got off “scott-free” despite being found guilty of stealing and selling 65,000 people’s data – and making £25,000 in the process.
MPs sitting on the Commons Justice Select Committee have backed the move after Graham told them the current “paltry fines” were not enough.

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