Investigations by the Information Commissioners Office (‘ICO’)
Dean Phillips of Kangs Solicitors provides an update on Data Protection Act cases and the consequences of privacy and data breaches.
Data - what is it, who holds it and in what format? | Data Protection Act Solicitors
In 2016 the Office for National Statistics recorded 87.9% of UK adults (46.1 million people) as having recently used the internet.
They are some of the 3.2 billion people globally who habitually communicate, shop and work online generating 30 terabytes of information every second (about 6,000 DVD’s).
In addition to this, a huge volume of information is also recorded and stored by businesses and organisations outside of the internet, both digitally and physically.
This information can range from basic information, such as names and addresses, to more sensitive data and personal detail such as financial information, passwords and medical history.
Where appropriate, safeguards are put in place to ensure that only such information as is necessary is taken and that it will be used only for the purposes agreed to.
The Data Protection Regulations | Solicitors for Privacy Breaches
In the UK the body assigned to govern such data activity is the ICO.
Used correctly, together with a proper analysis and good understanding, this wealth of data can lead to significant benefits for all concerned but, if misused or mis-handled, such information can cause significant harm to those affected.
Where there has been an alleged breach of the Regulations, the ICO, using powers granted under the Data Protection Act 1988 and Privacy in Electronic Communications Regulations 2003, is able to investigate and, if necessary, issue monetary fines or enforcement notices.
A Recent Case | Data Breaches by Hampshire County Council | Solicitors for Data Breaches
In August 2016 the ICO issued a £100,000 fine to Hampshire County Council after a large number of social care files and 45 bags of confidential waste were discovered in a decommissioned council office.
Given the highly personal and confidential nature of the information within the files, compiled by the Adults and Children’s Services Department, relating to over one hundred individuals, the ICO concluded that the seriousness of the breach meant that a monetary penalty was appropriate.
It was clear in this case that, while it was necessary for the Council to gather the information, there had been a significant failing by it to ensure that there were proper procedures in place to safely store it.
Discovery of a data breach or investigation by the ICO | What happens next?
In the Hampshire Council case above, the discovery of the files was reported to the Council two years following it vacating the premises.
Hampshire Council then promptly reported the breach to the ICO.
Although it was noted others could have had access to this data during the two year period, it did not appear any harm had resulted and remedial actions had already been taken to prevent further breaches.
These mitigating features were communicated to the ICO by way of written representations which resulted in a reduction in the amount of the penalty imposed.
How we can help | ICO Investigation Solicitors
The importance of instructing suitable representation at an early stage is crucial in responding to any such investigations by the ICO.
Kangs Solicitors can :
- assist you prepare a defence to the allegations
- work with you to put forward the context of any breach investigated by the ICO
- address any factual misunderstandings
- draw attention to relevant factors that can have a significant effect on the amount of any monetary penalty or whether one should be issued in the first place.
Who do I need to contact for help? | The Kangs Solicitors Team
Kangs Solicitors are able to advise you in relation to any matters relating to:
- the Information Commissioner
- the Data Protection Act
- Privacy and Electronic Communication Regulations
Our experienced solicitors will be pleased to speak with you in confidence and provide you with a detailed assessment of your case.
We welcome both corporate and individual clients to contact our team of solicitors below: