Feeds

Government consults on possible £500,000 data breach fines

Hanging, drawing and quartering not an option

Boost IT visibility and business value

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) would have the power to fine organisations up to £500,000 for serious breaches of data protection principles under plans announced this week by the Ministry of Justice.

The consultation, Civil monetary penalties - setting the maximum penalty, asks just one question: whether the proposed maximum fine will provide the ICO with a proportionate sanction to impose on those seriously contravening the data protection principles.

Justice Minister, Michael Wills, said: "We want to ensure that the Information Commissioner's Office has the powers it needs and is able to impose robust penalties on those who commit serious breaches of data protection principles."

The Government decided not to follow the approach of other regulators that have the power to impose a penalty up to 10% of an organisation’s turnover.

"Following discussion with the ICO and consideration of the greater administrative burden involved in operating a turnover-based system, we are consulting only on a fixed maximum amount," says the consultation paper. "However, we consider it desirable that the maximum amount of the penalty should not be higher than the equivalent of 10% of the highest annual turnover of a small company."

The power to impose a civil monetary penalty on data controllers was created by section 144 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008, which amends the Data Protection Act of 1988. The power is expected to be in force next April, according to the ICO.

The penalties can only be imposed when certain criteria are met.

  • There has been a "serious contravention" of one of the Act's eight principles; and
  • It has to have been of a kind likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress and either: o the contravention was deliberate; or o the data controller knew or ought to have known that there was a risk that the contravention would occur, and that such a contravention would be of a kind likely to cause substantial damage or substantial distress, but failed to take reasonable steps to prevent the contravention.

According to the Ministry of Justice, the ICO will exercise its discretion to assess the appropriate level of any penalty it imposes and will publish detailed guidance setting out the criteria it will use and circumstances it will take into consideration.

The consultation closes on 21st December 2009.

The consultation papers can be perused here.

Copyright © 2009, OUT-LAW.com

OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

More from The Register

next story
Just TWO climate committee MPs contradict IPCC: The two with SCIENCE degrees
'Greenhouse effect is real, but as for the rest of it ...'
'Blow it up': Plods pop round for chat with Commonwealth Games tweeter
You'd better not be talking about the council's housing plans
Arrr: Freetard-bothering Digital Economy Act tied up, thrown in the hold
Ministry of Fun confirms: Yes, we're busy doing nothing
Help yourself to anyone's photos FOR FREE, suggests UK.gov
Copyright law reforms will keep m'learned friends busy
Apple smacked with privacy sueball over Location Services
Class action launched on behalf of 100 million iPhone owners
Adam Afriyie MP: Smart meters are NOT so smart
Mega-costly gas 'n' 'leccy totting-up tech not worth it - Tory MP
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.