Some of the notes on individuals included descriptions such as “ex-shop steward, definite problems” and “Irish ex-Army, bad egg”. Others related to workers who had raised concerns over health and safety issues, such as asbestos removal.
One of the firms listed in the ICO’s report, Balfour Beatty, said it “does not condone the use of ‘blacklists’ in any circumstances”.
“We have taken steps to ensure that none of our companies use the services of the Consulting Association,” it added.
Another firm, Amec, echoed the denial. “Amec does not operate a policy of ‘blacklisting’ individuals and the senior management of the company would not condone such a policy,” it said.
Building companies would send Kerr a list of potential staff members and he would check it against his blacklist. Companies paid annual subscriptions of £3,000, plus £2.20 for each record checked.
David Smith, deputy Information Commissioner, said: “We will prosecute Mr Kerr and we are also considering what regulatory action to take against construction firms who have been using the system. I remind business leaders that they must take their obligations under the Data Protection Act seriously. Trading people’s personal details in this way is unlawful and we are determined to stamp out this type of activity.”
Not only was the information held without people’s consent, but the existence of the database was repeatedly denied.
The investigation was begun after an article in the Guardian last June.
Actually, no, they wouldn’t be getting ready for an IPO because they would just have been folded into one of the major credit-reporting firms, medical-information-reporting firms, or other background-information brokers. In fact, I expect there are half a dozen sources you could go to for this information about skilled US construction workers.