Data theft penalties proposed to be increased from fines to two-year custodial sentences

News by Dan Raywood

Current penalties for data loss are no deterrent to professional data thieves.

Current penalties for data loss are no deterrent to professional data thieves.

Following the publication of a consultation paper which proposes prison sentences of up to two years imposed on those who illicitly obtain confidential personal data, PGP claimed that a custodial sentence may make potential thieves think twice in the future.

Jamie Cowper, EMEA director of marketing at PGP, said: “Our personal data is highly valuable and the consequences for those whose information is stolen is often severe. Any measure designed to help defend our data should therefore be welcomed.”

The consultation paper, 'the knowing or reckless misuse of personal data: introducing custodial sentences', proposes increasing the current maximum penalty from a fine to up to two years' imprisonment.

Justice Minister Michael Wills MP said: "The knowing and reckless misuse of personal data is a serious criminal offence. We have been monitoring this illegal trade closely with the help of the Information Commissioner and as there is a great deal of concern about the protection of personal data we think the time has now come to consider a more robust penalty.

“We are consulting on whether to enable the courts to impose a custodial sentence. A prison term would act as a strong deterrent, ensuring that those who commit this serious criminal offence and seek to profit from the illegal trade in personal data are punished appropriately.”

“With these proposals still in consultation stages, we will have to wait to see the real impact of custodial sentences for data thieves. In the meantime, organisations must continue to use every possible means to discourage, prevent and protect against data misuse. Anything less is simply unacceptable,” said Cowper.

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