Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has launched a scathing attack on the judicial system following yet another paltry fine dished out to a woman who sold stolen customer data, after her husband was approached in a boozer.
Sindy Nagra, an administrative assistant at Enterprise Rent-A-Car from Hayes, sold almost 28,000 customers’ records for £5,000.
She was responsible for processing customer details sent to the car rental company by an insurance firm. The details, typically of people who had been involved in road traffic collisions, included details of the policyholder as well as information on their insurance claim.
Enterprise Rent-A-Car contacted the Information Commissioner’s Office after its systems identified Nagra was looking at large number of records, including many that she would not have been expected to process.
An ICO investigation found Nagra, who worked from home, had been photographing the records while they were on her computer screen. It was discovered she had sold copies of 28,000 records, receiving £5,000 in cash.
Nagra pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining, disclosing and selling personal data, a criminal offence under section 55 of the Data Protection Act. Courts can issue unlimited fines for the offence, but not custodial sentences.
Appearing at Isleworth Crown Court on Friday, she was fined £1,000, ordered to pay a £100 victim surcharge and £864.40 prosecution costs.
The records were bought by Iheanyi Ihediwa, from Manchester, who Nagra claimed had been introduced to her after he approached her husband in a pub.
Ihediwa appeared before Manchester Magistrates’ Court on 17 December, where he also pleaded guilty to section 55 offences. Ihediwa was fined a total of £1,000, ordered to pay prosecution costs of £864.40 and a victim surcharge. The court also made a destruction order in respect any data held by the defendant.
Graham said: “Nuisance call cowboys and claims market crooks will pay people to steal personal data. The fines that courts are issuing at the moment just don’t do enough to discourage would-be data thieves.
“This fine highlights the limited options the courts have. Sindy Nagra got £5,000 in cash in return for stealing thousands of people’s information. She lost her job when she was caught, and has no money to pay a fine, and the courts have to reflect that. But we’d like to see the courts given more options: suspended sentences, community service, and even prison in the most serious cases.
“With so much concern about the security of data, it is more important than ever that the courts have at their disposal more effective deterrent penalties than just fines. People who break the criminal law by trading in other people’s personal information need to know that they will be severely punished and could even go to prison. We’ve been pushing for this for some time. Parliament voted for it to happen more than seven years ago but it remains on a Westminster backburner. It is high time that changed.”
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