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March 14, 2013

Call for tougher sentences over data protection breaches

A receptionist at a GP surgery has been prosecuted for illegally accessing sensitive medical information relating to her ex-husband's new wife.

By CBR Staff Writer

Appearing at West Hampshire Magistrates on Monday (14 March) Marcia Phillips was prosecuted under section 55 of the Data Protection Act and fined £750 and ordered to pay a £15 victim surcharge and £400 prosecution costs.

The incident took place at the surgery in Southampton and the case was brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Smith spoke out as he felt deterrents including prison sentences were ‘long overdue’ to discourage the crime and under current legislation a criminal cannot be sentenced to jail time for breaking data protection laws.

Phillips was found to have accessed the information on 15 separate occasions over a 16-month period while working as a receptionist at the Bath Lodge Practice.

Phillips actions were revealed after she left her job and then sent a text message to her ex-husband’s partner referring to highly sensitive medical information taken from her medical record.

Smith said: "We continue to urge the Government to press ahead with the introduction of tougher penalties to enforce the Data Protection Act.

"Without these unscrupulous individuals will continue to break the law, action to replace the section 55 ‘fine only’ regime with an effective deterrent is long overdue.

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"This change is not directed at the media and should not be held up while Lord Justice Leveson’s recommendations on data protection and the media are considered."

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