Plans for a simplified version of the code of conduct on data protection, aimed specifically at small companies, have been welcomed following warnings by employers that they are in danger of unwittingly breaking the law because the code is unnecessarily bureaucratic.
But the CIPD has warned that the concerns of employers of all sizes were not being addressed.
Diane Sinclair, lead advisor on public policy at the CIPD, told vnunet.com: ‘The Data Protection Act relates to all business of all sizes.
‘Because of its length the code of practice is preaching to the converted. The issues are the same for businesses of all sizes so why can’t they produce a shorter code for all companies?’
The ‘snooping’ code sets out how the Data Protection Act should regulate employers’ monitoring of email and internet, as well as their closed-circuit TV cameras and covert surveillance techniques.
Research conducted by law firm K-Legal in December found that many businesses monitor staff in ways that break the Act.
Assistant Information Commissioner David Smith stated that awareness among small companies of business obligations relating to the Data Protection Act was still lagging behind that of larger counterparts.
Richard Thomas, who replaced Elizabeth France as Information Commissioner in December, has made openness for public bodies and respect for personal information a key focus.
Thomas, who was previously in charge of public policy issues at law firm Clifford Chance, has also warned companies that it is in their best interests to take data protection issues seriously, backed up by firm and well targeted use of legislation where necessary.
‘People will get increasingly anxious about a surveillance society if they cannot be confident that information about their private lives is being handled properly,’ said Thomas.
‘My job will be to shed more light on what the public sector is doing in our name with our money.’
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