Sainsbury’s and Data Protection – They have your number (and it’s not on your nectar card).


It shocked me on Sunday morning (a few months ago) when driving into our local Sainsbury’s car park. Through bleary eyes I suddenly saw my registration number flash up on a display in front of me. It also said my 2 hours of free parking would end in precisely 1 hour and 59 minutes. After parking and doing a bit of investigating I found that they’d fitted cameras at the only entrance (which was also the exit) so they could snap you on the way in and on the way out and thereby obtain evidence (or not) of your length of stay. This isn’t new. Many car parks have been doing this for years but it does raise a few issues.

Filming and collecting personal data is OK as long as a Schedule 2 condition of the Data Protection Act is fulfilled. (I suppose going off on one for a moment that filming at a hospital car park might require a Schedule 3 condition but that’s an argument for another day). The simplest one is Schedule 2 condition is consent as the other 5 require a necessary element. Do Sainsbury’s have your consent? Did you know that filming was going to happen before you attempted to enter their car park or did it only register when your number plate was staring back at you. If you were filmed before you knew you’d been filmed the consent is out of the window.

Once inside the car park you could see signs that told you more about the filming. Looks good to start with but the small print really is small and is also 8 feet up in the air (that old joke again!). I couldn’t actually read the small print. Basic fact remains that the Fair Processing Notice whatever the quality of it was only available after the processing took place.

So far we’ve missed out on an obvious Schedule 2 condition and missed the fair processing element of Principle One. What else could go wrong? If the sensible Sainsbury’s shoppers don’t overstay their welcome they won’t be troubled by a bit of DPA non-compliance. But if they do go over their limit will Sainsbury’s do nothing or will they take the registration number they acquired unlawfully and unfairly and further process it by finding out more personal data about the driver and sending him/her a penalty notice?

It may be that they’ve explained all this very well somewhere but as an everyday shopper in a rush I didn’t see it. It may also be that holding the information about a car than its owner and its address is proportionate if by so doing they allow you to stay a couple of minutes extra checking out the different brands of Prosecco but it could also be argued that it is not. A recent court judgment about parking is interesting:

It seems to come down in favour of disproportionate penalties for parking and while it may be appealed the current climate is not very temperate.

The fact remains that Sainsbury’s have obtained your car’s number plate without giving you fair warning and are holding it and probably further processing it.

The old joke? What lies on its back 8 feet up in the air.

Answer: A dead spider!

The Act Now Data Protection Practitioner Certificate is a qualification designed to give candidates a head start in understanding and implementing the proposed EU Data Protection Regulation.

Author: actnowtraining

Act Now Training is Europe's leading provider of information governance training, serving government agencies, multinational corporations, financial institutions, and corporate law firms. Our associates have decades of information governance experience. We pride ourselves on delivering high quality training that is practical and makes the complex simple. Our extensive programme ranges from short webinars and one day workshops through to higher level practitioner certificate courses delivered online or in the classroom.

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