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IT lawyers warn of risk of flouting UK data protection laws

UK lawyers Sprecher, Grier Halberstam are alerting companies that new business search software released by AltaVista may put them at risk of infringing UK data protection laws. The software enables desktop searching of entire corporate networks, allowing employees to access all network folders, personal computers and email, creating a far-reaching new resource.

“Know-how is often a company’s greatest resource and on the face of it, this seems like an impressive knowledge sharing tool. However, companies need to consider the implications of using it,” warns e-commerce solicitor Joanne Ashley of Sprecher Grier Halberstam. “Companies using this tool are going to have to ring-fence human resources data and consider how to address the issue of the search tool not discriminating between work and personal emails and information.”

“If employee personal data is released companies could find themselves in breach of the Data Protection Act. For this reason I advise companies to make sure they have appropriate email and internet use policies in place and to get advice on monitoring employee communications before buying this software” she added.

Joanne says “Personal data is not the only information at risk. Strategic, confidential material at board level about mergers/acquisitions/disposals can be particularly dangerous if it gets into the wrong hands - it can have a major impact on employees and it could possibly affect price sensitive share information. Even for private companies, rumours of management plans can spark fear and instability.”

About Sprecher Grier Halberstam Solicitors

Sprecher Grier Halberstam is a business-based law firm with clients ranging from household names, international businesses, financial institutions and professional practices, to small family firms. Founded in 1984, the firm's services span commercial law, insolvency, commercial litigation, commercial property and debt recovery. It is also recognised as one of the UK's foremost providers of legal expertise in the IT/technology sectors, where it has been critical in several high profile cases, including being one of the UK's leading advisors on Y2K compliance.
SGH has also developed Weblaw (www.weblaw.co.uk) to provide free legal information and details of its IT and internet law services.

For more information, visit http://www.sprgr.co.uk or call 020 7544 5555.

For further information please contact:

Caroline Larnach and Reena Mistry
Fox Parrack Hirsch
Telephone: +44 (0)207 436 4336
Fax: 0207 436 4224
Email: clarnach@fphcom.com or rmistry@fphcom.com

Joanne Ashley
Sprecher Grier Halberstam solicitors
Telephone: +44 (0)20 7544 5555



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