Direct marketing organisations made up ten per cent of the complaints about personal information issues received by the UK’s Information Commissioners Office (ICO) last year, a new report has found.

Nearly 24,000 enquiries and complaints about personal information issues were sent to the ICO in 2006 to 2007, which described the many breaches in data protection laws as “horrifying”.

The highest number of complaints was made against internet firms, with 13 per cent of the total.

One example cited was a recent glitch on the Medical Training Application Service website which left trainee doctors’ personal details open to public view.

Banks were responsible for 12 per cent of complaints, after 12 high street banks were found guilty of discarding customers’ personal details, such as bank statements, destroyed credit cards and loan applications in unsecured bins outside their premises.

But direct marketing organisations were accountable for ten per cent of complaints and telecoms firms for 7 per cent.

The UK’s information commissioner Richard Thomas said company managers had to start taking data protection laws seriously.

“The roll call of banks, retailers, government departments, public bodies and other organisations which have admitted serious security lapses is frankly horrifying,” he said.

“My message to those at the top of organisations is to respect the privacy of individuals and the integrity of the information held about them, to embrace data protection positively and to be sure you are not the business or political leader who failed to take information rights seriously.” ADNFCR-8000151-ID-18208333-ADNFCR

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