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Information Commissioner: please redesign your stupid form

November 19, 2009 No Comment

If you have a data protection issue, you can complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. I recently complained about the Sun using a recording of Gordon Brown on the phone. I am not here going to go into why  can't believe it's going to take them over a month to get back to me, or how awful the journey to get to their complaint form is, or why they say this:

By email: If all your supporting evidence is available electronically, you can fill in our our online complaint form.

(People: email is not a webform.) I am, though, going to talk about their webform. It is rubbish.

Contact details are not mandatory

Here is the introduction.

No fields are compulsory

No fields are compulsory

Yes, that's right - your details (the ones they need to contact you to tell you the result of your complaint) are not mandatory fields.

They're not helping themselves ...

There is a required field - here it is:

One mandatory field - name

One mandatory field - name

Yes, it's the name of the person you are complaining about. They don't need any more info - just the name is required.

URLs - try and work it out ...

Don't forget HTTP

Don't forget HTTP

However, when you do enter a URL, make sure that you put HTTP at the front, as they can't cope with www there.

It's not like they could work it out or anything. Oh no.

Did you use these characters? You shouldn't have

And finally, after you've filled out the form, you get this stupid message telling you not to use % or &:

You shouldn't have used any special characters

You shouldn't have used any special characters

Which is (a) a lie as I hadn't used any of the forbidden characters (I had to fill out the form 7 times to get it accepted, and I still can't work out why) and (b) stupid as they should warn you of this BEFORE you fill out the form and (c) they should use some on-page validation not wait until I press submit and (d) it's a stupid security feature anyway.

They accept any old gibberish

And even worse than all of this, I just filled out a dummy form. The ONLY information I entered was:

  • Name: adasdsdsd
  • Date of problem: 10/11/2009
  • Details: cascs / & < >

And it accepted the form! Even though it has the forbidden characters.



What happens next? Nothing - your form validation is rubbish. You have no idea who I am.

Fortunately my proper complaint had more details.

But the ICO really needs to address its form validation ...

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