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Data Protection Policy

Howell & Co – Data Protection Policy

In the course of it’s business Howell & Co needs to gather and use certain information about individuals. These can include customers, suppliers, business contacts, employees and other people the organisation has a relationship with or may need to contact.
This policy describes how this personal data must be collected, handled and stored to meet the company’s data protection standards — and to comply with the law.

This data protection policy ensures Howell & Co:
• Complies with data protection law and follow good practice
• Protects the rights of staff, customers and partners
• Is open about how it stores and processes individuals’ data
• Protects itself from the risks of a data breach

Data protection law
The Data Protection Act 1998 describes how organisations must collect, handle and store personal information. These rules apply regardless of whether data is stored electronically, on paper or on other materials.

To comply with the law, personal information must be collected and used fairly, stored safely and not disclosed unlawfully.

The Data Protection Act is underpinned by eight important principles. These say that personal data must:
1. Be processed fairly and lawfully
2. Be obtained only for specific, lawful purposes
3. Be adequate, relevant and not excessive
4. Be accurate and kept up to date
5. Not be held for any longer than necessary
6. Processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects
7. Be protected in appropriate ways
8. Not be transferred outside the European Economic Area (EEA), unless that country or territory also ensures an adequate level of protection

Policy scope
This policy applies to:
• All staff of Howell & Co
• All contractors, suppliers and other people working on behalf of Howell & Co

It applies to all data that the company holds relating to identifiable individuals, even if that information technically falls outside of the Data Protection Act 1998. This can include:
• Names of individuals
• Postal addresses
• Email addresses
• Telephone numbers
• …plus any other information relating to individuals

Data protection risks
This policy helps to protect Howell & Co from some very real data security risks, including:
• Breaches of confidentiality. For instance, information being given out inappropriately.
• Failing to offer choice. For instance, all individuals should be free to choose how the company uses data relating to them.
• Reputational damage. For instance, the company could suffer if hackers successfully gained access to sensitive data.
Responsibilities

Everyone who works for or with Howell & Co has some responsibility for ensuring data is collected, stored and handled appropriately. Each team that handles personal data must ensure that it is handled and processed in line with this policy and data protection principles.

The director is ultimately responsible for ensuring that Howell & Co meets its legal obligations by:
• Reviewing all data protection procedures and related policies, in line with an agreed schedule.
• Arranging data protection training and advice for the people covered by this policy.
• Handling data protection questions from staff and anyone else covered by this policy.
• Dealing with requests from individuals to see the data the company holds about them (also called ‘subject access requests’).
• Checking and approving any contracts or agreements with third parties that may handle the company’s sensitive data.
• Ensuring all systems, services and equipment used for storing data meet acceptable security standards.
• Evaluating any third-party services the company is considering using to store or process data. For instance, cloud computing services.
• Approving any data protection statements attached to communications such as emails and letters.
• The only people able to access data covered by this policy should be those who need it for their work.
• Howell & Co will provide training to all employees to help them understand their responsibilities when handling data.
• Employees should keep all data secure, by taking sensible precautions and following the guidelines below.
• In particular, strong passwords must be used and they should never be shared.
• Personal data should not be disclosed to unauthorised people, either within the company or externally.
• Data should be regularly reviewed and updated if it is found to be out of date. If no longer required, it should be deleted and disposed of.

Data storage

When data is stored on paper, it should be kept in a secure place where unauthorised people cannot see it.
These guidelines also apply to data that is usually stored electronically but has been printed out for some reason:
• When not required, the paper or files should be kept in a locked drawer or filing cabinet.
• Employees should make sure paper and printouts are not left where unauthorised people could see them, like on a printer.
• Data printouts should be shredded and disposed of securely when no longer required.

When data is stored electronically, it must be protected from unauthorised access, accidental deletion and malicious hacking attempts:
• Data should be protected by strong passwords that are changed regularly .
• If data is stored on removable media (like a CD or DVD), these should be kept locked away securely when not being used.
• Data should only be stored on designated drives and servers, and should only be uploaded to an approved cloud computing services.
• Data should be backed up frequently. Those backups should be tested regularly, in line with the company’s standard backup procedures.
• Data should never be saved directly to laptops or other mobile devices like tablets or smart phones.
• All servers and computers containing data should be protected by approved security software and a firewall.

Data use
Personal data is of no value to Howell & Co unless the business can make use of it. However, it is when personal data is accessed and used that it can be at the greatest risk of loss, corruption or theft:
• When working with personal data, employees should ensure the screens of their computers are always locked when left unattended.
• Personal data should not be shared informally. In particular, it should never be sent by email, as this form of communication is not secure.
• Data must be encrypted before being transferred electronically. • Personal data should never be transferred outside of the European Economic Area.
• Employees should not save copies of personal data to their personal computers.

Data accuracy
The law requires Howell & Co to take reasonable steps to ensure data is kept accurate and up to date.
The more important it is that the personal data is accurate, the greater the effort the company should put into ensuring its accuracy.

It is the responsibility of all employees who work with data to take reasonable steps to ensure it is kept as accurate and up to date as possible.
• Data will be held in as few places as necessary. Staff should not create any unnecessary additional data sets.
• Staff should take every opportunity to ensure data is updated. For instance, by confirming a customer’s details when they call.
• Howell & Co will make it easy for data subjects to update the information it holds about them.
• Data should be updated as inaccuracies are discovered. For instance, if a customer can no longer be reached on their stored telephone number, it should be removed from the database.

Subject access requests
All individuals who are the subject of personal data held by company are entitled to:
• Ask what information the company holds about them and why.
• Ask how to gain access to it.
• Be informed how to keep it up to date.
• Be informed how the company is meeting its data protection obligations.

If an individual contacts the company requesting this information, this is called a subject access request.
Subject access requests from individuals should be madein writing, addressed to the director at thr company registered office address.

Individuals will not be charged for subject access requests unless they are duplicates or unreasinable. The company will aim to provide the relevant data within 14 days.

The director will always verify the identity of anyone making a subject access request before handing over any information.

Disclosing data for other reasons
In certain circumstances, the Data Protection Act allows personal data to be disclosed to law enforcement agencies without the consent of the data subject. Under these circumstances, Howell & Co will disclose requested data. However, the director will ensure the request is legitimate, seeking assistance from the from the company’s legal advisers where necessary.

Providing information
Howell & Co aims to ensure that individuals are aware that their data is being processed, and that they understand:
• How the data is being used
• How to exercise their rights

To these ends, the company has a privacy statement, setting out how data relating
to individuals is used by the company. This is available on request. A version of this statement is also available on the company’s website.

Howell & Co has been assisting Online Profiling Ltd since 2005. They couple efficient service with good practical advice and are always extremely helpful and professional.  
Trevor DawesManaging DirectorOnline Profiling Ltd

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