The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO)  will launch a dedicated telephone service aimed at helping small businesses prepare for new data protection laws. The phone service will add to a package of tools and resources already available for organisations getting ready for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. This new law enhances rights and obligations from the current Data Protection Act.

The new service will go live on 1 November 2017 and will be based around the ICO’s existing public helpline, which handled around 190,000 calls last year. The ICO has also announced plans to simplify its popular “12 steps to take now” graphic in response to calls from small and micro businesses that they need access to targeted information about how to prepare for the GDPR.

And the ICO is revising its simple-to-use SME toolkit – a resource used by around 9,000 businesses a month since January 2016 – into a GDPR checklist that will allow businesses themselves to identify gaps in their own preparation for the new law.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said “There are 5.4 million businesses in the UK that employ fewer than 250 people. When it comes to data protection, surveys show they tend to be less well prepared. We know that most businesses want to get things right but often struggle to find the key steps to get started. They also have less time and money to invest in getting it right. They may not have compliance teams or data protection officers or access to legal advice.”

“The businesses may be small but they still hold important personal information and the need to gain the trust of their customers is just as real.”

Organisations that have yet to begin preparing for the GDPR can access a range of resources on the ICO’s dedicated data protection reform web pages.