ICO warning over employee data theft

Employment Law Partner Paul Maynard

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned employees that taking confidential business information from an old employer to a new job without permission is a criminal offence.

The warning follows the prosecution of a man who stole details of 957 clients from his employer. He emailed the data to his personal email address before leaving to join a rival firm. The data included personal information, such as the clients’ contact details and purchase history, as well as other commercially sensitive information.

Employees should be aware that even documents they produce themselves in the course of employment belong to their employer. They cannot use the related personal information or commercially sensitive data anywhere else without permission. To do so is an offence under the Data Protection Act 1998, s 55.

Currently, such infringements are punishable by fine only in a Magistrates Court or Crown Court, but the ICO is calling for tougher deterrents, including custodial sentences, to be made available to the courts.

Safeguard your business information and key staff

Restrictive covenants in employment contracts are the single most effective way for employers to safeguard against unfair competition and the theft of confidential data by employees.  To remain enforceable, however, the restrictions contained in an employee’s contract must be reviewed regularly and updated where necessary throughout their employment.

To find out more about protecting your business through contractual restrictive covenants visit our Business Protection pages where a range of Briefing Notes and FAQ videos is available.

Gaby Hardwicke Employment Law Services Partner Paul Maynard (pictured) is a recognised expert in the field of restrictive covenant creation and enforcement. He regularly receives referrals from barristers’ chambers on account of his expertise and enquiries from academics who want to know more about this area of employment law.

For expert advice or to book a review of your employees’ restrictive covenants please contact Paul Maynard:

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