The ICO exists to empower you through information.

Start here if you’re new to data protection or interested in learning why data protection laws are beneficial.

This short introduction to data protection and why we have data protection laws has been written to help sole traders, small business owners, and small organisations understand what data protection is all about and why it’s relevant for them.

We live in a data-driven world. Sharing data can make life easier, more convenient and connected for us all, both at home and at work.

Data protection law sets out what should be done to make sure everyone’s data is used properly and fairly.

You probably have personal data about your customers and clients such as names, addresses, contact details. You might even have sensitive information such as medical data.

You may need this to deliver goods or services, but you shouldn’t use it in ways people wouldn’t expect. And you have to protect it.

This is because if personal data falls into the wrong hands, people could be harmed. Depending on the situation, they could become victims of identity theft, discrimination or even physical harm.

Generally speaking, data protection law applies to all workplaces, business ventures, societies, groups, clubs and enterprises of any type. That includes you if you’re a sole trader or self-employed, if you work for yourself or if you’re an owner or director. It also applies if you only employ a handful of staff or even if you don’t employ any staff at all.

Running a one-person operation might seem vastly different from a global enterprise. But the rules are the same because if personal data falls into the wrong hands, it makes no difference where the error came from. What matters is that people could be harmed.

There are many benefits to complying with data protection law. As well as being the law, good data protection also makes good economic sense because it saves you time and money. It also shows people that you care about their information, which is good for your reputation and your brand.

More and more people are becoming aware of their personal data and how it’s being used, so any organisation that wants to be trusted has to get it right.

And even though the ICO ultimately has the power to issue fines, most of our work with small organisations is focused on helping them get data protection right first time around, through our events and our support and advice services. We’re here to help.