Data Protection Act – HMRC not above the law

Data Protection
Data Protection

Data Protection Act

HMRC must abide by the Data Protection Act like anybody else.

People are assuming that nothing could happen to HMRC after they lost 25 million people’s data on two disks which were sent by courier without registering them.

But this is not the case.

If an ordinary company lost data in this way there would be a prosecution. There is no exemption for Government departments.

Indeed Nationwide, the building society, received a £1m fine recently after they lost some people’s data.

Fine Government Departments

Although what use it would be one Government department fining another Government department I don’t know. It’s all our money anyway.

That would be a bit wry, i.e. after a Government department loses our records, which could potentially be used to cheat us out of the money in our bank accounts, that they are then fined a sum which they will pay out of our tax money.

At least the Nationwide shareholders took the hit.

I suppose it would be, at least, highly embarrassing for them.

Management to Blame

Some people may think that the department is not to blame. They think it was just the fault of a junior official in sending the information this way.

However, there should be systems in place, and a culture in place, that should have prevented this happening. Therefore, it is the management who are responsible for the system right up to the highest level.

Management too often, up and down the country, blame individual workers or contractors, when in fact it is the system that has broken down.

Incompetent Departments

Surely if you are going to put in place a Data Protection Act you should, at the very minimum, ensure that your own departments follow it and don’t embarrass you over it.

Who is it who’s in charge of the War On Terror?

One feels that there is some incompetence here at all levels.

Indeed one feels that incompetence may permeate at HMRC.

Look at all the time wasted in pursuing thousands of PCG contractors for IR35 tax. Cases sometimes take years with it only resulting in a handful of wins for HMRC.

Perhaps one thing that may come out of this may be that HMRC may become a more competent department.

Be careful what you wish for contractors 🙂