In the UK, an employee of motoring breakdown cover and roadside assistance provider RAC has been given an eight month suspended prison sentence after pleading guilty to charges of securing unauthorised access to computer data, and to selling unlawfully obtained personal data.
In a prosecution brought by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO), Manchester Crown Court heard that RAC Performance Manager Kim Doyle had compiled lists of road traffic accident data, including partial names, mobile phone numbers and registration numbers, despite having no permission from her employers. An ICO investigation found Doyle unlawfully transferred the data she obtained to William Shaw, director of accident claims management firm TMS (Stratosphere), and the ICO says there is evidence this data was used to make nuisance calls. Shaw was also sentenced to eight months' imprisonment, suspended for two years.
The offence came to light when fleet management company Arval alerted RAC to nuisance calls made to one of its drivers about an accident he had been involved in. RAC then performed a data leakage scan of its Outlook mailboxesleading to the discovery that Doyle had been compiling unauthorised lists of data. A Confiscation Order has been given to the court, under the Proceeds of Crimes Act, to recover benefit obtained as a result of the offence: Doyle must pay a benefit figure of £25k and Shaw must pay £15k. Doyle and Shaw have also been ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work each, and contribute £1,000 costs.
Mike Shaw, who heads up the Criminal Investigations Team at the ICO said: 'Offenders must know that we will use all the tools at our disposal to protect people's information and prevent it from being used to make nuisance calls. This case shows that we can, and will take action, and that could lead to a prison sentence for those responsible. Where appropriate we will work with partner agencies to make full use of the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that criminals do not benefit financially from their criminal behaviour'.
Web site: www.ico.org.uk .
All articles 2006-21 written and edited by Mel Crowther and/or Nick Thomas unless otherwise stated.