The Information Commissioner’s Office is stepping up its activity to raise awareness of GDPR among micro-businesses by launching a series of radio ads, amid fresh criticism in the House of Commons about the quality of service the regulator is providing.
The initiative, which is separate from the planned “Your Data Matters” consumer awareness activity scheduled to launch next month, carries the strapline: “Making data protection your business.”
Recent research by the Federation of Small Businesses showed that 90% of small businesses are unprepared for the new regulation; a third (33%) have not even started preparing, while 35% are in the early stages and only 8% have completed their preparations.
However, rather than direct business owners to the ICO hotline, the radio ads advise them to visit its website to use the self-assessment tool and read the eight-step guide to GDPR. It will be running across Absolute, Capital, LBC, and Radio X among others.
The script reads: “Whatever your customers trust you to do, they trust you with their data too. So whether you’re a carpenter or a chiropodist. A florist or a financial advisor. An electrician or nail technician. Don’t forget, the new GDPR data protection rules apply to your business from the 25th of May. You could be fined if you ignore them. So whatever you do, make data protection your business at ico.org.uk today.”
According to reports some callers to the hotline are being put on hold for up to half an hour as they attempt to get through to the service, even though it went live on November 1 last year.
Last week, Conservative James Cartlidge MP raised concerns in the House of Commons about the quality of service provided by the ICO. He said: “I knew that some small businesses in my constituency were concerned about the impact of the GDPR, so I telephoned the ICO to find out what support was available to them. The only answer that the office could give to every question that I asked about how the GDPR would affect small businesses was ‘Go to the website’. Does my right honourable friend agree that we should expect better from a telephone line that is funded by the taxpayer?”
Culture Secretary Matt Hancock, however, dismissed the concerns, saying: “I am glad that there is a telephone line. However, the ICO has already provided clearer guidance, as well as the telephone line.”
Speaking about the new radio campaign, Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “All organisations have to be ready for the new data protection rules, but we recognise that micro-businesses in the UK face particular challenges.
“I’m sure the women and men running micro businesses in the UK will want to be ready when the new law comes into force, but they may not know where to start, and that is what the new tools and information on our website can help with.
“For the large majority of micro businesses, the steps towards GDPR compliance can be practical and achievable without costly or expensive external support.
“It’s also worth noting that many sector and industry groups and associations are offering help to micro businesses about the GDPR and can be a good starting point for industry-specific advice.”
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