Information Commissioner’s Office Fines
With the introduction of new legislation in 2018, there are factors which need to be taken into account to identify whether any breach should be dealt with under the new more stringent legal regime of GDPR/ Data Protection Act 2018 or whether it is still caught under the Data Protection Act 1998.
Under the old legislation, the laws and procedures allow for the ICO to issue fines, with serious breaches incurring penalties of up to £500,000.
Such fines are rare but regulatory fines are not confined to investigations into large corporate bodies holding large volume of data.
Any person or small business who is found to have breached personal data legislation can easily find themselves the subject of an investigation.
The ICO regularly chooses to prosecute cases in the Magistrates Court. In such cases, if the defendant is found guilty, the court can impose a fine. Since 2015, fines in the Magistrates’ Court are unlimited but often range from £100 to £500 per breach (depending on seriousness of the breach and how it was dealt with in the courts). However, based on the fact this relates to one particular breach of personal data of one individual and breaches often relate to numerous breaches of personal data relating to more than one person, then it can easily be seen how fines quickly accumulate.
The new legislation is too new for any prosecutions to have taken place. Although there has been much press coverage highlighting the power to impose much higher fines, the ICO have made indications that they would consider the appropriate fines will be for most cases in line with what has previously been utilised, leaving the much larger headlining fines to those exceptional cases. It is yet to be seen if this is the case, or whether the ICO choose to prosecute in a more stringent manner with the intention of securing a few example cases as a deterrent for others.
It is therefore vital that anybody who comes to the attention of the ICO regarding alleged breaches of personal data receives expert legal advice from the outset. Richard Nelson LLP has experienced lawyers who can work with you. If you require assistance of this nature, please contact us today.
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