ICO issues first fines to organisations for non-payment of data protection fees

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued the first fines for non-payment of the data protection fee to organisations across a range of sectors including business services, construction, finance, healthcare, retail and leisure. All organisations, companies and sole traders that process personal data must pay an annual fee to the ICO unless they’re exempt. Fines for not paying can be up to a maximum of £4,350. This follows regulations which came into force alongside the new Data Protection Act on 25 May 2018.

These first organisations have been fined for not renewing their fees following their expiry and more fines are set to follow. More than 900 notices of intent to fine have been issued by the ICO since September and more than 100 penalty notices are being issued in this first round.

The money collected from the data protection fee funds the ICO’s work to uphold information rights such as investigations into data breaches and complaints, its popular advice line and guidance and resources for organisations to help them understand and comply with their data protection obligations.

The ICO has grown over the last two years to meet its wider data protection remit and responsibilities following the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) inception. It now employs 670 members of staff.

Paul Arnold, deputy CEO at the ICO, said: “Following numerous attempts to collect the fees via our robust collection process, we’re now left with no option but to issue fines to these organisations. They must now pay these fines within 28 days or risk further legal action. You are breaking the law if you process personal data or are responsible for processing it and don’t pay the data protection fee to the ICO. We produce lots of guidance for organisations on our website to help them decide whether they need to pay and how they can do this.”

Aggravating factors

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

Fines range from £400 to £4,000 depending on the size and turnover of the organisation. Aggravating factors may lead to an increase in the fine up to a maximum of £4,350. All fines recovered do not go to the ICO. They go to the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund.

The data protection fee is set by Government which has a statutory duty to ensure the ICO is adequately funded, and is part of the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018. It came into force on 25 May to coincide with the new Data Protection Act 2018 and the GDPR. it replaces the need to notify or register with the ICO.

Under the funding model, which is set by Government, organisations are divided into three tiers based on their size, turnover and whether it’s a public authority or charity.

Larger organisations will be required to pay £2,900. The fee is higher because these organisations are likely to hold and process the largest volumes of data and therefore represent a greater level of risk.

Organisations that have a current registration (or notification) under the Data Protection Act 1998 – prior to 25 May 2018 – do not have to pay the new fee until that registration has expired.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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