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GDPR Alert as Average ICO Fines Double in a Year

The value of fines issued by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has increased 24% in the year to September 30 versus the previous year, according to new data.

Law firm RPC calculated that the total cost of financial penalties issued by the UK’s data protection watchdog stood at £4.98m, up from £4m in the previous 12 months.

The average fine doubled, to £146,000, in another timely reminder for firms to ensure they pay attention to GDPR compliance.

The law firm believes the new EU-wide privacy law, introduced in May this year, will result in higher fines for large firms. However, SMEs should be spared, in the short-to-medium-term at least, and firms will not be picked deliberately by the ICO to make an example of.

RPC partner, Richard Breavington, described the hike in fines as a “wake-up call” to businesses.

“Given that there seems to be no slowdown in the number of cyber-attacks today businesses need to see how they can mitigate the risks to their customer when there is an attack,” he added.

“For example, businesses should ensure that they take out cyber insurance policies so that they can bring in experts to contain the impact of an attack and limit the exfiltration of data.”

Sarah Armstrong-Smith, head of continuity and resilience at Fujitsu UK & Ireland, argued that the ICO fine is just one aspect of data breach costs to consider.

“We must also consider the cost that a recovery, compensation claim, reputational damage or potential loss of customers can have,” she added.  

“Changes in data protection legislation aim to give individuals more ownership and control over what’s happening to their personal data. The focus needs to be on the interests and rights of data subjects — employees, customers and all stakeholders: everyone you come into contact with. Their interests need to be the principal focus if companies are to avoid hefty fines.”

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