Outsourcing to India: British bank violating law?
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Outsourcing to India: British bank violating law?

Wednesday, 18 August 2004, 07:00 Hrs
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LONDON: Is British bank Lloyds TSB breaching data protection laws by outsourcing work to India?

The bank's employees union believes it is.

The Lloyds TSB Group Union (LTU), which campaigned against the closure of the bank's Newcastle call centre, has asked the information commissioner, who polices the act, to consider its case.

Steve Tatlow, assistant general secretary of the LTU, said the union had taken advice from the solicitors Bindmans. The case against Lloyds was based on the union's belief that India did not have the standards of data protection required under British laws.

Some 1,000 jobs are being shed at Lloyds' Newcastle call centre as a result of the bank's decision to move the work to India.

The union cited European law, which stipulates that personal data can be transferred outside the European Economic Area only with the consent of customers. Bindmans has said it believes customers must give written consent for their data to be transferred to a country that does not have the same legal safeguards as Britain.

The union is yet to hear from the information commissioner of its views about Lloyds TSB, which will close its Newcastle call centre by the end of the month.

Lloyds insisted it had not breached the Data Protection Act nor put its customers' records at risk.

"Security is of utmost importance. We have put a number of measures in place so that the protection of customer data is paramount," a bank spokeswoman said.

Under the terms of the Data Protection Act, customer permission was not required, provided the personal records had "adequate" protection.

A spokeswoman for the Information Commissioner's Office said: "There are various bases in law which can be used to legitimise the transfer overseas of personal data. Consent from the individual is just one of them.

"Should a data controller, subject to British law, outsource work outside the European Economic Area, they will remain responsible for that data. In particular, it must be afforded appropriate security and not be used or disclosed other than for its legitimate business purpose," she said.

Source: IANS
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