Thousands of firms across the UK could be breaking the law without realising it when doing business using the internet.
According to a report by the London Chamber of Commerce and technology law firm Manches only a tiny number of firms using the internet had ever taken legal advice about it.
In a survey of over 300 UK businesses, the London Chamber of Commerce found that only four percent of businesses had taken any legal advice when setting up their website.
"Firms must act quickly to ensure they are complying with the law and are protected from the improper use of the internet by their own staff," said Peter Bishop, acting chief executive for the London Chamber of Commerce.
Two in five firms were ignorant of the Data Protection Act's requirements and, those that did comply with the Act 44 percent only met the most basic requirements.
"Incidents arising from improper email use can be a massive cost," said Chris Owen, partner at Manches. "[Companies] need to appreciate the dangers of having an internet free-for-all for all their staff."