Remain resilient during the COVID-19 outbreak, yes, but keep compliant too

It will be some time before life returns to “normal” in the UK and even then, things will no doubt be different.

Teams up and down the county have responded to what’s happening and stayed resilient by working from home.

But, how is remote working supporting many companies in their attempt to be resilient through these strange economic times? And, how are they remaining compliant every step of the way?

Working from Home

Thousands, if not millions, of employees, are working from home as a result of this pandemic.

From Microsoft Teams calls to Zoom, progress in using technology has proven to be an excellent benefit for businesses across the country.

Technology (and a reliable Internet line) hasn’t been relied on as much as it has in these unprecedented times.

While working away from the office is allowing businesses to continue efficiently, it does come with risk:

Data Protection

With an increase in the number of employees working from home, your people must understand the importance of protecting personal data on the IT they are using.

It’s all well and good if your company is following Data Protection legislation within an office environment, you must still ensure this doesn’t get thrown out the window with your remote workers. Especially if they are new to working at home or remotely.

If you need any help check out our Data Protection Solutions here: https://www.crimsoncrab.co.uk/our-solutions/data-protection-information-risks

Cyber Security

Producing an effective Cyber Security Policy comes with an understanding of where your own security is currently at.

If your business is susceptible to a cyber-attack then you must be ready to deal with this unfortunate risk… both for those working in an office and from their own home. Any system is only as good as the weakest link and regrettably, this is most likely to be an individual away from the discipline of the office environment.

Similar to protecting data, think about how you can remain compliant while keeping resilient throughout the lockdown.

Understand more about Cyber Security at the NCSC website here: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/section/about-ncsc/what-is-cyber-security

Scams

Stay safe from online scams by taking simple steps while working from home.

Check your privacy settings, be aware of unsolicited emails, always use unique, strong passwords (use a trusted password manager – not the browser), update your software regularly, make sure your network is set up correctly, change all the default passwords on devices to a secure one and avoid using public Wi-Fi connections.

There is more information about Fraud and Cyber Crime on the Action Fraud website here: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk

Remember – your business must trade legally and it is your responsibility to do so ethically – no matter where your staff are based. Take full responsibility and get in touch with us on how you can remain compliant while focused on being resilient.

Things to think about before Brexit

If you haven’t already thought about it there are some things that you will need to do to prepare your business for Brexit.

Especially if you:

  • import or export goods or services to the EU,
  • exchange personal data (including customers’ addresses, staff working hours or information you give to a delivery company) with an organisation in Europe (this includes using websites or services hosted in Europe & processing personal data from Europe), or
  • you use or rely on intellectual property (IP) protection (this includes copyright, trademarks and patents).

There is a useful step by step guide at https://www.gov.uk/get-ready-brexit-check

Network referrals

When seeking referrals off people in my networking group, what information is safe to gather? So, let’s say, for example, I ask Bob for referrals of our ideal client. Bob knows somebody who may be interested in our service – so passes us their contact details. Is this safe?

Samuel Poole Marketing Communications Manager Syn-Star Complete I.T. Solutions

Great question, actually in Data Protection terms it is not safe to do this unless certain things are in place.

Essentially when dealing with personal information such as contact details the person who decides what to do with the information is a data controller, in this case, Bob.

The data controller has to “process” personal data fairly (processing includes passing it to a third party i.e. you). They also have to have one of six lawful reasons to be able to process the data. The most appropriate one of which in these circumstances is the consent of the data subject. This has to be GDPR compliant consent i.e. given freely, not under duress and in full knowledge of what they are consenting to.

The data controller also has to give “privacy information” explaining how the subjects data will be used. There are specific things that have to be included in this information which often takes the form of a notice, but can also be given verbally depending on the circumstances.

It is incumbent on you to check that the necessary consent is in place for the use you wish to make of the data before acting on it.

Of course, once the information comes into your hands for marketing purposes you become a data controller, in addition, you will need to comply with the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regs in relation to electronic marketing messages (phone, fax, email or text).

How long does personal data have to be stored under the data protection law?

The short answer is no longer than necessary.

Personal data will need to be retained for longer in some cases than in others. How long you retain different categories of personal data should be based on individual business needs. A judgement must be made about:

  • the current and future value of the information;
  • the costs, risks and liabilities associated with retaining the information; and
  • the ease or difficulty of making sure it remains accurate and up to date.

There are various legal requirements and professional guidelines about keeping certain kinds of records – such as information needed for income tax and audit purposes, or information on aspects of health and safety. If an organisation keeps personal data to comply with a requirement like this, it will not be considered to have kept the information for longer than necessary.

The CIPD have a great resource regarding HR records which can be found here.

The Data Protection Bill

The UK’s third generation of data protection law has entered Parliament.

The Data Protection Bill was published on 14 September 2017 and aims to modernise data protection laws to ensure they are effective in the years to come. 

The Information Commissioner’s (ICO) website has been updated to include new section about the Data Protection Bill.

This explains the relationship between the Bill and the GDPR, detailing the additional areas the proposed new legislation covers. It also includes links to the ICO’s GDPR and Law Enforcement pages and to a Data Protection Bill fact sheet.

Notification under the Data Protection law

When the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) come into effect next year there will no longer be a requirement to notify the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) as there is now.

There is a provision in the Digital Economy Act which means it will remain a legal requirement for data controllers to pay the ICO a data protection fee. These fees will be used to fund the ICO’s data protection work. As now, any money the ICO receives in fines will be passed directly back to the Government.

The new system will aim to make sure the fees are fair and reflect the relative risk of the organisation’s processing of personal data. The size of the data protection fee will still be based on the organisation’s size and turnover and will also take into account the amount of personal data it is processing. The final fees will be approved by Parliament before being put into place.

Can I buy a mailing list to send out marketing material?

There are plenty of databases out there but whether they can be used to send marketing material will depend on the basis on which the personal information concerned was collected. The general rule is that unsolicited marketing can be sent to individuals where they have agreed to this or where it is likely to be within their reasonable expectations. For example, if an individual goes on holiday with a particular travel company then it is reasonable for that company to send a brochure advertising similar holidays the next year, unless the individual has made it clear that they do not wish to receive such marketing.
Therefore, the buyer of a list needs to check the basis on which the information was collected and whether any of the individuals have objected. The buyer should also establish whether the individuals would only expect to receive marketing via a particular medium, for example by mail. When using the telephone or email the special rules governing electronic marketing should also be complied with.
Unsolicited marketing emails should only be sent to individuals who have consented (and consent cannot be assumed if an individual does not respond).
If it is established that the list buyer can use the personal information for marketing they should only market products and services which are similar to those that the information has been used to market previously. Further guidance on electronic mail marketing can be found here.
The Data Protection Act requires that any personal information held should be adequate, relevant and not excessive, and that it should not be kept for longer than is necessary. The new owner of a database should decide how much of the information they need to keep. Any unnecessary personal information should be deleted. Personal information should not be held simply on the basis that it might become useful one day.