Jail sentences for misuse of data?

DCA consults on amendment to DPA

The Department of Constitutional Affairs has issued a Consultation Paper on a possible amendment to to the Data Protection Act 1998 to allow for custodial sentences for the ‘wilful or reckless abuse’ of personal data.

The Paper follows the recent call for prison sentences for ‘data thieves’ from Information Commissioner Richard Thomas in his report “What Price Privacy? The unlawful trade in confidential personal information”

Section 60 of the Act currently provides for fines on conviction, of up to £5,000 on summary conviction and unlimited on conviction on indictment. The government proposes to amend this to allow for imprisonment for up to 6 months on summary conviction and up to 2 years on conviction on indictment.

The Consultation Paper asks whether these penalties should be available and whether they would act as an effective deterrent.  Responses are sought by 30 October 2006.