Data breach: Led to cold calls

A former worker at an accident repair firm who downloaded and sold the personal data of motorists to nuisance callers has been convicted under the Data Protection Act of unlawfully obtaining and disclosing data.

Phillip Bagnall, 33, of Eccles, Greater Manchester, was fined £500 and was also ordered to pay £364 costs and a £50 victim surcharge.

He was an employee of Nationwide Accident Repair Services Limited (NARS) when he was found to be accessing suspicious volumes of customer data from a laptop at home outside of work hours.

According to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which prosecuted Bagnall, NARS called in cyber security consultants in November 2016 after large numbers of customers began complaining that they were receiving nuisance calls about personal injury claims shortly after engaging its services.

Initial enquiries led to suspicions that Bagnall was involved and it was decided that his access to the company’s computer systems would be monitored.

During just one week, he was found to have accessed the data of 2,724 customers without his employer’s consent.

NARS reported Bagnall to the ICO. He made ‘no comment’ in a subsequent interview and declined to identify the person he sold the data to.

Before Manchester and Salford Magistrates’ Court, he pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data in breach of section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998. A further charge of unlawfully disclosing data was also admitted and taken into consideration.

ICO criminal enforcement manager Mike Shaw said: “This case serves as a warning to anyone who thinks they can make some quick and easy money selling people’s personal information.”

Meanwhile, barrister Dominic Ruck Keene, who practises from One Crown Office Row, has been reprimanded by the Bar Standards Board after leaving documents on the London Underground back in 2015.

The regulator said that, in so doing, Mr Ruck-Keene “failed to preserve the confidentiality of confidential and highly sensitive data by failing to take adequate or appropriate security measures against accidental loss of personal data”.

The offence was dealt with by a ‘determination by consent’, an agreement that means the case was not sent to a disciplinary tribunal.

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