By law, businesses must protect the information they use about their customers, clients and employees. Home addresses, bank details, invoicing and even holiday records all have to be stored and kept safe – sometimes you even need written permission to hold personal or sensitive information, such as staff sickness records.
Under EU proposals, the data protection rules that safeguard our private information are set to get tougher. Simon Goldburn explains what the changes could mean for your business.
Data protection law – set to change under tough new EU rules
EU plans are afoot to make significant changes to the way that a business deals with information it holds about an individual, to recognise that the information belongs to the individual and not the business. As a result, the individual will have the right to access, retrieve or amend the information, or to stop the business from using it, at any time.
The business will only have limited rights to use the information, and in many cases will have to agree a detailed plan with the individual setting out how the information will be used and how long it will be stored.
A business will also have to design, build and implement a system to ensure that it only uses the information in accordance with the plan and to alert the business if the information is used in any other way. The system will have to be kept under review and any breach will have to be reported “without undue delay” to the Information Commissioner’s Office and to the individual.
The Information Commissioner could then impose a fine of up to €1,000,000 (more for a larger business) and the individual could sue for any financial loss or distress that he or she suffers because of the breach. The same rules will apply across the EU, so if the business deals with an individual in another EU member state, that individual could make a complaint to the local regulator or sue in the local courts.
Where a business has more than 250 employees, or there is an imbalance between the parties such as between an employer and an employee, higher standards will be required.
The rules could be finalised in 2012, with a two-year transitional period. The Ministry of Justice has asked for comments on the proposals by 6th March 2012. Find more information in the Ministry of Justice’s paper “Call for Evidence on EU Data Protection Proposals - Regulation COM(2012)11 and Directive COM(2012)10”
Simon Goldburn is Director at Ascent Consultants.
Fierce controversy has characterised discussions this month of whether separated fathers should have the right to equal time with their children. In November 2011, the Family Justice Review rejected the idea – but by February 2012, children's Minister Tim Loughton had stated it was important that decent and loving fathers are not pushed out of their children's lives.
The latest news from Government is that when disputes are settled in court, it will promise to find ways to ensure that every father has a right to access to their children, unless he poses a safety or welfare risk. An extra £10 million will be available to parents for mediation to reduce the number of children’s contact cases going to court - because if both parents are to maintain meaningful relationships with their children cooperation is key, and acrimonious court proceedings don’t help.
However, the fundamental discussion should be in every case what the children need: whether it is equal time with both parents, some sort of sharing arrangement, the right to contact with one parent or no contact at all.
These pointers indicate when a shared, although not necessarily equal , pattern of care might work - suitability may well depend on whether each parents answers yes or no to the questions:
The length of this list shows you just how important cooperation is. If you're prepared to begin negotiating with your ex-partner regarding the care of your children, then it’s time to consider making an appointment for mediation.
Frances Place, Partner at Progressive Mediation
At first glance, registering a trade mark in the United States can seem confusing, especially to companies from abroad. But with the guidance of a US trade mark attorney, it can be smooth and easy.
As in the UK, the US trade mark registration process is comprised of several steps. First, conduct a comprehensive US trade mark search to make sure no one else holds a claim to your intended trade mark. Then draft and file a trade mark application with the US government. The government will review the application and issue registration (if approved) within 8-12 months.
Sounds simple. Nonetheless, many misunderstandings surround the process of applying for and maintaining a US trade mark. Here in Washington DC at Gerben Law Firm, we often see confusion from our international clients. To help clear this up, we’ve compiled five facts that any foreign company should know before filing for a trade mark here in the United States:
These are just five of the most common issues we’re asked about by our international clients, and there are many other things to consider when filing an application. For more information or to begin the US trade mark registration process, contact an experienced trade mark attorney at Gerben Law Firm, PLLC.
Josh Gerben of Gerben Law Firm is an experienced trade mark attorney, serving 18 countries worldwide.