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Pipex Retaining Former Customers Personal Data

Posted: 06th Jun, 2007 By: MarkJ
UPDATE: Pipex has issued a statement, which is re-printed at the bottom of this news item.

UK ISP Pipex has been accused of clinging onto the personal details of former customers long after they've cancelled and moved on to pastures new.

The issue first came to light on Thinkbroadband's Pipex forum after the providers new account management website revealed that personal data, including sensitive bank details, had in some cases been retained for up to and over a year:

The Data Protection Act states that retaining data counts as processing, which must be justified. It follows, as the Act specifies, that personal information should be retained for no longer than is needed for the reason it was collected. The Information Commissioner has details of consumers' rights here.

Pipex, which currently has about 570,000 broadband customers, had not provided a comment on why it still retained the data at time of writing, but said it was looking into the issue. Its data protection policy is here, although it makes no specific mention of former customers.

Unfortunately this potentially illegal practice is not uncommon in the industry, with such details often being abused to SPAM former customers with advertisements for new products long after they've left.

However there is now somewhat of a grey and conflicting area with regards to the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act 2000 (RIPA), better known as the 'snooping' law. This involves the issue of extended data retention and often conflicts with the Data Protection Act; it is unclear whether or not this can be applied here.

Never the less, financial details should certainly not be kept on file and the best way to make sure that your ex-ISP keeps to the law is to make a formal request for such details to be removed. More @ The Register.

UPDATE - Statement from Pipex:
We are not in a position to discuss individual cases due to data protection, but can assure all customers that data is held securely and not used for any purposes other than being available should they wish to return to us.

Once again, if concerned, the simplest solution is simply to contact Pipex and request that any such details be removed. Try to keep a record of this request too.
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