The 1998 Data Protection Act in the United Kingdom was initiated to make new provisions for the regulation of processing information related to individuals, including obtaining, holding, use or disclosure of such information.
What does this mean for self-employed book-keepers?
The Act requires that all public and private organisations are legally obliged to protect any personal information they hold, and applies to all firms holding information about living individuals in electronic format and on paper.
As a book-keeper you will be processing and holding personal data on your clients, and therefore you must notify the Information Commissioner of this (see website link below). There are instances where book-keepers are not required to notify, and this depends on the type of work they are doing for an organisation. However if you are not sure whether you should notify, it is best to speak to the ICO direct.
Failure to notify when required is a criminal offence. Registration requires the payment of an annual fee of £35 and you will be added to the register of data controllers. This register is available to the public for inspection so that the public can then find out who is carrying out the processing of personal information, as well as other details about the processing.
The cost of this is currently £35 per year.
Please note that in the past there have been some fraudulent operators claiming to represent the Information Commissioner who want to charge you upwards of £95 for registering your business under the act. Do not fall for these scams. The cost is a maximum of £35 per annum.
Simply go to www.ico.gov.uk and you will find information on how to sign up and what you need to do to comply with the legislation.