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fines for Data Protection Breaches Are Coming

19 April 2010

The Information Commissioner has new powers to fine organisations up to £500,000 for breaches of the Data Protection Act that take place after 6 April. 

Fines can only be imposed if a breach is serious and likely to cause substantial damage or distress. Also, only deliberate breaches or breaches where reasonable steps to prevent a foreseeable breach were not taken are covered. 

The example of a ‘serious’ breach given in the Information Commissioner’s guidance is the loss of medical records during a move.

The Information Commissioner has said that he will “not hesitate to use these tough new sanctions for the most serious cases where organisations disregard the law”, and the next company or government department who hit the headlines for losing information should expect to be hit with a punitive fine as well as bad publicity.

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