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ICO warns estate agents about data collection and reporting activity to the regulator

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The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has said that some lettings companies and estate agents are failing to notify it of the handling of personal information.

In a, exercise of authority, the ICO said it was concerned about the agents ‘failing to notify the privacy watchdog that they are handling people's personal information'. It said that currently only 3,734 estate agents and 1,416 lettings agents appear on the public register, which makes up a small proportion of the industry, and said that it has written to a number of professional bodies to urge them to encourage their members to notify.

Mick Gorrill, head of enforcement at the ICO, said: “We want to work with the industry to ensure all property agents meet the legal requirement to notify us that they are processing personal information. A targeted approach working with stakeholders and membership bodies has proved highly successful in other sectors. We will be writing to organisations providing them with advice and encouragement to notify.

“However, if that encouragement is ignored, we will take action against those who flout the law. The message is very clear – notify with the ICO or face regulatory action.”

Kevin Bocek, director of product marketing at IronKey, said: “This shows that there are so many companies that capture data and use it, and it is important for us that we know what the data is and know how it is used.

“I used an estate agent when I was in the UK and I don't know how they have used my details. For enterprises, IT and business are aware of data and how they apply it and the data protection act it is still something that organisations have not got to grips with. Everyone may not be aware of connecting the dots, but there is a real need to go back and from a company perspective, decide if they are doing what they say they are doing.

“I can guarantee that estate agents do not know what they have collected, and that is putting the business in jeopardy.”     

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