A former employee of a waste disposal company who took information about previous clients to use in his new role at a rival company has been prosecuted and fined by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO).
Mark Lloyd was working at Acorn Waste Management in Shropshire when he emailed the details of 957 clients to his personal email address shortly before beginning a new role at an unnamed rival company.
The documents contained personal information including customers' contact details and purchase history, and commercially sensitive information.
Lloyd appeared at Telford Magistrates Court last week and pleaded guilty to unlawfully obtaining data. He was prosecuted under section 55 of the Data Protection Act.
He was fined £300 and ordered to pay a victim surcharge of £30 and £405.98 in costs.
Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO, explained that taking client records that contain personal information to a new job without permission is a criminal offence.
"Employees need to be aware that documents containing personal data they have produced or worked on belong to their employer and are not theirs to take with them when they leave. Don't risk a day in court by being ignorant of the law," he said.
Currently, the offence is punishable only by a fine in a magistrates' or crown court.
The ICO continues to call for more effective deterrent sentences, including the threat of prison, to stop the unlawful use of personal information.
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