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Regulation Around Visual Data Privacy – The Essential Facts

Regulation Around Visual Data Privacy – The Essential Facts
  • Most of us will identify with this situation: either unable to resist looking sideways at someone’s laptop, tablet or smartphone screen, or been aware that someone is looking at ours.  But what many people in the financial sector may not realise is that data breaches caused by inadvertently allowing someone to read a screen – or ‘shoulder surfing’ – can lead to hefty fines.  Plus of course, there is the potential damage to corporate reputation, causing concern among customers and shareholders alike.

    This is why financial organisations need to be aware of the regulation around visual privacy issues and manage ‘shoulder surfing’ as part of their overall risk, compliance and security processes.  Given how many people now work remotely or on the move, visual privacy should be a priority.

    Much of the legislation and regulation that governs visual privacy will be familiar to financial organisations.  The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) are the two main regulators for the sector and although the FSA technically no longer exists, its guidelines are still relevant.  In other words, the FSA’s previous observations and recommendations will influence decisions around data breach penalties.

  • 7 important facts about data privacy regulation the financial services sector needs to know

    7 important facts about data privacy regulation the financial services sector needs to know

    There are no upper limits on FCA fines – the FCA can fine companies in the financial services sector for serious infringements without any limitations. 
    The ICO can levy fines up to 500,000 for data protection breaches and that includes ‘physical security’  – under principle 7 of its Data Protection Guide – the ICO says that an organisation should make sure “that desk-top computer screens in its offices are positioned so that they cannot be viewed by casual passers-by.”
    Phone cameras – the FSA expressed concern that financial companies were not addressing the risks around people “taking photographs of customer data on screen” using “high-end mobile phones”.
    Mobile workers – the FSA also commented that customer data can be ‘lost or stolen very easily.’  It advised organisations to put in place systems and controls to minimise those risks.  
    Data security is part of Treating Customers Fairly (TFC) – the FSA also observed that data security is an essential part of the six principles of TFC, which is designed to ensure that customers are confident they are being treated properly.
    Data security is everyone’s problem in the financial services industry, not just an issue for the IT department – the FSA also said that the data security is organisation-wide, including senior management, human resources, physical security, IT and compliance. 
    Financial services companies must prove they protect data – The  Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 – which forms the legal basis for determining fines – states that a company must show it ‘took all reasonable precautions and exercised all due diligence’.

  • All these elements of guidance and regulation relate as much to visual security as they do to any other aspect of data privacy and will have an impact on any decisions around fines resulting from data breaches.  Financial services companies spend fortunes on security software solutions, but they are allowing a potentially gaping hole to exist if they do not manage ‘shoulder surfing’.  Visual data privacy needs to be viewed as an integral part of any financial organisation’s security, compliance and risk management strategies.

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