ICO: ‘Don’t slash data budgets’

Businesses have been warned that they risk ruining their brand reputation – and with it their customer base – if they slash their data protection budget as if it were a “mere back office function”.
With all spend under increased scrutiny, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham claims those dealing with information security are “under real pressure, hit by the double whammy of increasing demands for information from citizens and consumers on the one hand and reduced resourcing on the other”.
He added: “Businesses under pressure in the downturn must be tempted to cut corners and push boundaries,” he added. “That’s a bad call, since the first casualty of a big data breach is going to be a brand’s reputation. Consumers will abandon companies that disrespect their privacy.” The ICO is also able to impose fines of up to £500,000 fine.
Unveiling the ICO’s Information Rights Strategy for 2012 and beyond, Graham highlighted that individuals are increasingly aware and concerned to assert their information rights. But, he added that, just because rights are talked about doesn’t mean they are respected in the cold climate of austerity, with cuts in the public sector, cut-throat competition in the private sector.
He warned: “The danger is that rights are seen as a ‘nice to have’ in the good times, but a bureaucratic inconvenience when times are hard.
“It’s in the tough times that we most need to defend the rights of the individual against abuse of power by organisations, both public and private. And information rights are under pressure right now – a victim primarily of the economic climate. Data protection and freedom of information are too often seen as a mere ‘back office’ function – to be cut.”
Earlier this week, one data expert urged companies to make data security a major priority for 2012.

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