Small businesses handle data every day, from taking customer details for an order to filing staff records. However, data breaches and non-compliance can put your business at risk of facing prosecution.
Our legal experts explain why data protection is so important, the impacts of not following data protection procedures and the added protection available for FSB members at no extra cost.
What is the Data Protection Act?
Data usage in the UK is protected by law. The Data Protection Act contains a set of principles that organisations, governments and businesses have to adhere to in order to keep someone’s data accurate, safe, secure and lawful.
What is personal data?
Personal data is information that relates to an identified or identifiable person, such as names, addresses and emails. Key pieces of information are commonly stored by businesses, be that employee records, customer details, loyalty schemes or transactions.
Whether you’re recruiting staff or marketing your services, the data must be handled in accordance with the regulations, such as:
- Only using it in specifically stated or relevant ways
- Not storing it for longer than you need to
- Keeping it safe and secure
- Storing it in line with data protection rights
When I needed legal advice about GDPR, FSB had some really useful materials I could access on the FSB Legal Hub. And having the safety net of being able to claim under my legal expenses insurance if I need to as part of my membership is great.
What could I be prosecuted for?
The Crown Prosecution Service outlines several criminal offences under the law, including:
- Making a false statement in response to an information notice
- Destroying or falsifying information and documents
- Unlawfully obtaining personal data
- Processing personal data that has been re-identified
- Altering personal data with intent to prevent disclosure
- Requiring someone to produce records linked to employment, contact for services etc.
- Intentionally obstructing or failing to assist
Keeping data secure
Of course, the ideal scenario is to prevent data breaches or offences in the first instance. Ensuring you adhere to data protection policies is crucial as the effects of non-compliance can be devastating for you and your business. Clear processes, policies and training on data protection and GDPR can help to mitigate the risks.
However, if you find yourself subject to data protection prosecution, we’re here to help.
What extra protection is available?
FSB members can access data protection prosecution cover including legal representation for defending legal proceedings brought by the Registrar or appeals against the refusal of an application or Enforcement Notice.
I know as a small business owner that data protection is really important, so it gives me peace of mind to have legal insurance as part of my membership because I’m not a legal expert and costs can add up. If I need to defend myself, it’s reassuring that I can call on FSB for legal support to help me avoid fines or prosecution.