As we mark the passing of the second anniversary of the GDPR, we take a brief look at what has changed and what needs to happen to make sure that this key piece of legislation is effective.
In terms of what has happened, the General Data Protection Regulation has put a greater onus on information processors to act more responsibly. It has also given the UK’s data watchdog, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), far greater powers to impose more substantial penalties that could amount to 4% of an organisation’s global annual turnover. It triggered many organisations over-reporting, perhaps in worry over failing to adhere to the law. The system may have struggled to cope as a result of this.
But its introduction has been far from perfect in terms of it being a catalyst for change. Although we would always expect it to take time before such an important piece of legislation takes effect, a huge number of avoidable breaches have still taken place.
Two-year anniversary of the GDPR: what needs to change
As we mark the two-year anniversary of the GDPR, have we seen the impact that we expected to see given the weight of the new regulation?
So far, the ICO has not ben able to finalise as many fines as we would have expected to have seen. The two big intentions to fine British Airways and Marriott at £183m and £99m respectively are in no way final amounts and are subject to appeals. Had those cases have been resolved by now, we might have seen a clear message that data breach offenders will be held to account with significant fines. Instead, the delays have perhaps diluted the message that could have been sent.
What we think needs to happen is for enforcement of punishments to be executed swiftly; no ifs, and no buts. The GDPR itself ought to have been a catalyst for change, but when you look at the number and the nature of the breaches that have occurred since 2018, it hasn’t had the desired effect yet.
The list includes:
- The BA data breach referenced above that also has a compensation action in the High Court that we’re on the Steering Committee for;
- This year’s huge Virgin Media data breach we’re running an action for;
- This month’s monumental easyJet cyberattack affecting 9 million people.
Benefits for compensation claims
It’s important to remember that compensation claims and the fines that can be imposed for breaches of the GDPR are entirely separate.
That being said, the GDPR has allowed for compensation claims to be able to better succeed in some circumstances. The law is clearer, as is the duty that data processors have for the information that they hold. As such, from a compensation perspective, we see the second anniversary of the GDPR as marking the passing point of an improvement for how victims can claim compensation.
Although we have commented on the issues surrounding the lack of enforcement that has taken place, this doesn’t stop claims from being successfully settled. Punishments issued by the ICO are separate and you do not need to wait for an outcome before making a claim. We can represent you for a separate legal case to pursue compensation for:
- The loss of control of your personal information;
- Any losses and expenses incurred.
Data breach compensation pay-outs can be based on one or both of the above.
Your Lawyers in the media
The anniversary of the GDPR has led to several media outlets commenting on the effectiveness of the law and what has happened since its introduction. As an established and leading data breach compensation law firm, we’re often in the mainstream media and we have been asked for comment about the anniversary.
At this unprecedented time of the coronavirus pandemic, we must also take this factor into account. Clearly, the progress of the GDPR could be hampered because of the changes many organisations have had to make. That being said, prior to the changes, its effectiveness remains open for debate.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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