Data watchdog sees record number of breaches
More data protection cases have come before the ICO this year than any other, according to the watchdog’s annual report.
The ICO closed 39% more cases this year than last, and dealt with 20% more Freedom of Information Act requests and 30% more data protection cases than 2008/09. The watchdog recorded 464 data breaches.
The increase in complaints to the ICO is a cause for concern
“The increase in complaints to the ICO is a cause for concern,” the report admitted.
“Respect for information rights is not optional,” said commissioner Christopher Graham. “Organisations that ignore their responsibilities will not only lose the confidence and trust of citizens and consumers but could face painful enforcement action from the ICO as well.”
The ICO was this year handed the ability to dole out fines of up to £500,000 for data breaches, but Graham wants courts to have the power to jail offenders, too.
“I continue to believe that the courts should be able to impose a custodial sentence, where appropriate, to tackle the unlawful trade in personal data that is the scourge of the digital world,” he said in the report. “Data theft is no victimless crime.”
The ICO hasn’t yet issued a fine since being handed the power in April. Investigations lead by the ICO have resulted in three fines being doled out by courts this year, however.
The ICO took two organisations to court for not responding to its enforcement notices, with one being fined £5,200. It sent out 15 such notices during the year.
ICO work lead to seven organisations being prosecuted for failing to notify the watchdog they were collecting data – which includes paying the ICO a fee of £500 for large companies or £35 for SMBs or individuals. Of those seven, only one was handed a £5,000 fine.
The watchdog’s big case of the year was against construction group The Consulting Association, which maintained a blacklist of contractors. It was fined £5,000 and ordered to pay £1,187 in costs.