The Information Commissioners Office (ICO) deals with all matters in relation to personal data protection and freedom of information in the UK. Businesses that only process personal information for core business reasons (such as their own marketing or advertising activities, or for keeping a file on each employee) usually do not need to register with the Information Commissioners Office.

The following are examples of when you do need to register with the ICO:

• if you deal with personal information capture techniques such as the use of a CCTV system on your business premises;

• if you provide accounting services or;

• you process information electronically – for example using credit card machines or a call logging system.

The cost of ICO registration for small and medium size businesses is £35 per year. If you have more than 250 members of staff and a turnover of at least £25.9m, the fee rises to £500 per year. If you do need to register and fail to do so, your omission is treated as a criminal offence and is punishable by a fine of up to £5,000.

If in doubt about your status, always check with a lawyer or with the ICO – although a lawyer may be a safer first port of call for that enquiry. You’ll also find useful information on our website in our pages ‘I want to protect my confidential information’, ‘We need advice on data protection compliance’, ‘I need advice on registering as a data controller’ and ‘We’ve received a Data Protection Act information request’. The ICO offer a data protection self-assessment toolkit that can be accessed here.

We also offer a service called QuickReview on data protection matters. This allows you to complete a form online, upload some paperwork, and one of our experienced solicitors will phone you within 2 hours to discuss your immediate options with our recommended next steps. This costs just £50 including VAT and is a great way to see where you stand before going any further. There is no obligation to proceed with LHS after your QuickReview. You can obtain more information and access the service by clicking here.

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