The scare sell

Sometimes how can marketeers not resist an opportunity to provide selling messages based on fear: buy our product or get punished! My reaction, at first glance, is to think of a term for a collection of shoe repairers.

Get this:according to ONStor: "Organisations still holding paper records will be in breach of the The Data Protection Act 1998 by October 2007 if all personal data held in company records has not been digitized and stored securely."

"As a company that delivers scalable storage to both public and private sector organisations, ONStor warns that if companies still have paper-based information they must comply or face being sued and landed with fines. "

It's a gift to ONStor, a gold-plated, thank you Lord for this opportunity, which someone has placed in my lap, gift. Expecting marketeers not to take advantage of it is like ... well, politicians deciding not to introduce another stealth tax.

Maybe ONStor is over-egging its pudding just a little: "Organisations must also be able to supply information on personal data to members of the public if they request it within a maximum of 40 days or suffer the consequences."

Oh, right. It's not that some regulator is going to fine you, more that a disatisfied Joe Public person could sue you. There's a smell of weasel words here.

ONStor quotes from KPMG work. Here it is:-

KPMG and the Data Protection Act

Press Release: Six month countdown to data protection crisis begins
Risk Advisory Service Issued 25 April 2007

• UK-based public and private sector organisations are facing a data protection crisis that will affect the way they store paper based files, warns KPMG.

• Those organisations with significant amounts of paper based records will struggle to comply with simple requests from members of the public who want to know who has access to their personal data, whether it is accurate and confirmation that it is stored securely.

• In six months' time an exemption from the Data Protection Act will expire

• Organisations with large volumes of paper records face a compliance crisis over data protection laws, warns consultancy group KPMG.

• In October exemption from the Data Protection Act for paper files created before the legislation came into force will end and they will face the same rules as newly created files.

• KPMG now expects firms with such 'legacy records' to start investing in effective digital storage systems.

• ‘At a time when identify theft is a growing problem, custodians of our personal information hold a position of trust,' says Steve Kenny, privacy services leader with KPMG.

• KPMG has warned that, "in the public sector, such paper-based records could include health, education and social work records, while in the private sector, personnel, pension and customer files may be affected".

• Steve Kenny, KPMG privacy services leader, said: "We are concerned that many organisations have not grasped the potential scale of this problem - Companies need to understand very quickly how exposed they are, before the relief period comes to an end. Worryingly, many internal audit and compliance functions may have let this slip off the radar."

ONStor goes on to state: “Compliance is often the trigger for considering a secure storage solution. Rather than reacting to each regulation that comes into force, organisations should look at improving overall business efficiency and how they manage their data and information. By tackling these issues and putting solutions in place to solve them, many organisations will find that they automatically comply with many of the regulations.”

Oh come on; stop being reasonable. First you stick a gun to customers' heads and then you start talking overall business efficiency and 'may comply'. Which is it? Buy ONStor kit and definitely avoid getting fined or buy ONStor kit and 'maybe' avoid getting fined? I'm thinking of a collection of shoe menders again.

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Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

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