Spectrum Housing Group based in Dorset breached the Data Protection Act by sending the personal data of 200 employees to the wrong email address, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) said today.

In March 2011, an employee of Spectrum Housing Group accidentally emailed a non-secure excel spreadsheet containing employees’ data, including details of their pension contributions, to the wrong external email address. The error was discovered 30 minutes after the email had been sent, at which point the unintended recipient was informed and the data destroyed.

The ICO’s investigation found that at the time of the incident Spectrum Housing did not have a sufficient policy in place to help prevent such incidents and has ordered the company to take action.

Acting Head of Enforcement, Sally Anne Poole said:

“While on this occasion the information compromised was not sensitive, the fact is that at the time of the incident Spectrum Housing Group did not have appropriate controls in place. This case highlights the need for organisations to make sure that adequate checks are in place and documents suitably protected before they are sent out.”

Wayne Morris, Group Chief Executive, of Spectrum Housing Group, has now signed a formal undertaking to ensure that spreadsheets or other documents containing personal data are only sent by email where necessary and only contain the minimum amount of data required. The organisation will also consider, where appropriate, password protecting or encrypting documents containing personal information.