ICO clamp down on data protection

Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has recently launched a campaign
to clamp down on employment agencies who are not registered under the
Data Protection Act 1998.

Employment and recruitment agencies will inevitably hold personal
details on file for clients and candidates which may include their skill
set and work experience, as this information is used to match them with
suitable vacancies. If an organisation is processing personal
information in this way it is required by law to be registered with the
ICO. The ICO is actively seeking those companies who have failed to
register and will act accordingly, listing all names of those prosecuted
on its website.

There are of course exemptions for companies that only process
information for what is referred to as ‘core business purposes’, such as
their own staff administration, accounts and records, or for
advertising, marketing and public relations, in connection with their
own business activities. To rely on these exemptions, the organisation
must ensure the processing of personal information is strictly within
the conditions attached to each exemption and that the organisation does
not operate CCTV. It is highly unlikely that a recruitment agency
would fall into an exempt category because they are processing personal
information about potential clients and candidates.

As part of the application process for ARC, all members need to be
registered and we would encourage those long standing members to ensure
that when they renew their ARC membership each year, they also renew
their ICO registration.

It is worth noting that failure to register when required to do so is
a criminal offence under the Data Protection Act 1998 and subject to
prosecution accompanied by a fine. Registration is simple and can be
done by visiting www.ico.org.uk
where a form can be completed online. Alternatively, you may wish to
contact the ICO helpline on 0303 123 1113 to go through the form over
the phone.