A motor industry employee has been sentenced to eight months' imprisonment, suspended for two years, in a prosecution brought by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Kim Doyle, who worked for the RAC, transferred personal data to an accident claims management firm without authorisation.
Doyle, 33, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to secure unauthorised access to computer data, and to selling unlawfully obtained personal data, at a hearing in January 2020. She was sentenced at Manchester Crown Court on 8 January 2021.
The court heard that Doyle compiled lists of road traffic accident data including partial names, mobile phone numbers and registration numbers despite having no permission from her employers.
An ICO investigation found Doyle, of Village Lane, Higher Whitley, unlawfully transferred the data she obtained to William Shaw, the director of an accident claims management firm, TMS (Stratosphere), trading as LIS Claims. There is evidence this data was used to make nuisance calls.
Shaw, 32, of Flixton Road, Urmston, was also sentenced today to eight months' imprisonment, suspended for two years after pleading guilty to conspiracy to secure unauthorised access to computer data.
The offence came to light when Arval, a fleet management company, alerted RAC to nuisance calls to one of its drivers about an accident he had been involved in. Arval suspected there may have been a data leak from RAC, which had carried out recovery of their driver’s vehicle.
This prompted the RAC to perform a data leakage scan of its Outlook mailboxes, where it found details which led it to discover Doyle had been compiling unauthorised lists of data.
Mike Shaw, who heads up the Criminal Investigations Team at the ICO said:
“Those who believe that this is a victimless crime without consequences, need to think again.
“These criminal acts have a detrimental impact on the public and businesses.
“People’s data is being accessed without consent and businesses are putting resources into tracking down criminals. Once the data is in the hands of claims management companies, people are subjected to unwanted calls which can in turn lead to fraudulent personal injury claims.
“Offenders must know that we will use all the tools at our disposal to protect people’s information and prevent it from being used to make nuisance calls.
“This case shows that we can, and will take action, and that could lead to a prison sentence for those responsible. Where appropriate we will work with partner agencies to make full use of the Proceeds of Crime Act to ensure that criminals do not benefit financially from their criminal behaviour.”
Doyle and Shaw were also each ordered to carry out 100 hours unpaid work and contribute £1,000 costs.
A Confiscation Order, under the Proceeds of Crimes Act, to recover benefit obtained as a result of the offending has been given by the Court in which Doyle must pay a benefit figure of £25,000 and Shaw must pay a benefit figure of £15,000. Both Doyle and Shaw will face three months' imprisonment if the benefit figures are not paid within three months.
Throughout the investigation the ICO received full support from partner agencies including the RAC, The Insurance Fraud Bureau and affected insurance companies including Aviva Insurance.
Notes to Editors
- The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
- The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
- S.1 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 refers to causing a computer to perform a function with intent to secure access to any program or data held on that computer. It carries a custodial sentence of up to 2 years.
- Under past and current law, the ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
- This is the ICO’s second prosecution under the Computer Misuse Act. The first is detailed on our website.
- To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns