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Taking personal data to a new job is a crime, warns ICO

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned that employees who take the personal information of their old employer when moving on to a new job are committing a criminal offence.

It issued the warning following a case in which an employee emailed himself sensitive personal data of more than 100 people before heading to a rival firm.

The employee also stole workload lists, file notes and template documents, which he hoped to use at his new job.

Section 55 of the Data Protection Act

He was prosecuted and fined under Section 55 of the Data Protection Act 1998, and ended up almost £800 out of pocket for his mistake.

Section 55 makes it a criminal offence to obtain or access personal data unlawfully, punishable by a fine of up to £5,000 in a magistrate's court, or an unlimited fine in a crown court.

The head of enforcement at ICO, Stephen Eckersley, said, 'Employees may think work-related documents that they have produced or worked on belong to them, and so they are entitled to take them when they leave. But if they include people's details, then taking them without permission is breaking the law.'

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