UK data protection authority issues record fines

UK data protection authority issues record finesSince August 2015, The UK’s independent authority, The Information Commissioner’s Office, has fined 104 organisations a total of £8.7 million for breaches in data security and anti-spam regulations.

Every month the UK body releases detailed information on which companies have been issued with fines for breaking the regulations. The figures for January reveal that they are ramping up the pressure still further on companies that break the rules by issuing record fines for the month.

According to The SMS Works, who have analysed the fines data, nine separate companies were given monetary penalties in January, the highest for any one month. Fines were issued for all the main types of offences that the authority oversees: email spam, SMS spam, nuisance call and data protection breaches.

As well as the highest number of fines given in any month, the total in monetary penalties reached a new high of £1.7 million. For context a total of £4.9 million was raised in the whole of 2017.

This new record represents an increase of 312% above the average monthly figure for 2017.

Nuisance call companies under siege

Companies that persist in blighting people’s lives with automated calls at home will have little room for manoeuvre as the authority focusses its efforts on irradiating the practice.

Companies responsible for spam phone calls were handed fines totalling £900,000, 54% of all fines for January.

One notable case was Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd who were fined £300,000 after they instigated 8.7 million automated phone calls to individuals without their prior consent.

Commenting on case, Head of Enforcement at the authority, Steve Eckersley said: “The company paid no heed to laws on telephone marketing and showed no concern for the distress they were causing people, by making huge volumes of invasive calls. The Information Commissioner’s Office will not tolerate companies who blatantly disregard the law and Holmes Financial Solutions Ltd has paid the price for their negligence.”

Financial services incur largest number of fines

Financial services firms topped the hall of shame with 44% of fines in January being targeted at the sector.

The UK authority has the power to fine companies up to £500,000 for breaking the rules. When GDPR comes into effect on May 25th, their power will increase still further, with the maximum possible fine rising to 20 million Euros or 4% of global turnover, whichever is the greater.

The fines data should act as a wake-up call to all companies and organizations that process and handle consumer data. The clock is ticking and companies that haven’t done so already, need to urgently address data security before the deadline.