Forensic accountants from BDO Stoy Hayward said this week that company policies banning personal use of computers were not working, therefore hindering their search for fraudsters.
Andrew Durant, partner at BDO, explained that privacy rights of individuals as defined in the Acts ‘overrule’ company policies. Should a company access personal data stored on its system, it is breaking the law.
‘Our hands are tied. Some legislation is playing into the hands of fraudsters,’ he said. To prevent stumbling across personal data during his investigations, Durant is now using an independent lawyer, whose task is to review separate private data.
But even when private data is excluded, Durant said he is forced to limit research by, for instance, refraining from matching supplier bank accounts to employee bank accounts.
The Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed the DPA prevents companies from ‘going on a fishing exercise’, though it allows investigation of such data in specific circumstances, such as a fraud suspicion in a particular department. ‘Individuals have a right to privacy, but that needs to be balanced with the company’s right to do forensic accounting,’ argued David Clancy, policy officer at ICO.
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