Tag Archives: Data Protection Fees

Data Protection and Privacy Enforcement: November 2018

0The year is progressing quickly and we’re now onto looking at November’s enforcement action published by the Information Commissioner’s Office in relation to privacy and data protection matters. We are beginning to see enforcement action under the Data Protection Act 2018 (“DPA18”) filter through, but the majority is very much still under the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA98”) in respect of breaches which occurred prior to 25 May 2018.

Key Points

  • Carrying out a Data Protection Impact Assessment in the early stages of any project where it is envisaged that personal data will be processed is a useful tool to help highlight privacy and data protection concerns so that they can be addressed in the planning phase. Data protection by design and privacy impact assessments were recommended good practice under the DPA98; however, the GDPR mandates data protection by design and default (Article 25) and the carrying out of data protection impact assessments in certain circumstances (Article 35). Even if the GDPR does not require you to complete a DPIA, it is worthwhile undertaking one in any event – it can also be a helpful document to present to the Commissioner should her office begin any investigation into your organisation.
  • It is important to regularly download an updated version of the Telephone Preference Service list and to do so as close as possible to an intended direct marketing campaign. If you undertake regular direct marketing campaigns then you should probably be downloading the updated list once per month. Relying on an out of date version could mean that you unlawfully call numbers – the cost of regularly obtaining a copy of the TPS list is insignificant compared to the financial penalties that can be issued by the Information Commissioner for contraventions of Regulation 21 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003.
  • It should go without saying that if the Information Commissioner takes enforcement action against you for contravening privacy and data protection laws then you should ensure that you take adequate remedial measures to ensure that the contravention doesn’t happen again.
  • If you obtain a list of telephone numbers to call for marketing purposes from a third party the obligation rests with you to ensure that you have lawful authority to make (or instruct others on you behalf to make) calls to each intended number.
  • Controllers may no longer be required to notify the Commissioners of their processing of personal data; however, they are still required to make payment to the Commissioner of a fee. Those who either (a) don’t know they are due to pay  a fee; or (b) miss paying their fee and rectify the matter once the Commissioner has contacted them about their non-payment will likely not face formal enforcement action, but those who continue to fail to pay the fee once the Commissioner has contacted them can expect to be required to pay a financial penalty for failure to pay the fee.

Enforcement Action published by the ICO during November 2018

Metropolitan Police Service
The Commissioner of Police of the Metropolis (MPS) was served with an Enforcement Notice by the Information Commissioner [pdf] requiring the MPS to take a number of specified steps; including the conducting of a data protection impact assessment, in respect of its Gangs Matrix. The Gangs Matrix is part of the MPS’ ongoing effort to reduce the incidences of crime in London arising from gangs. The Notice only emphasises the Commissioner’s primary concerns in respect of the MPS’ compliance with the data protection principles, rather than listing every single contravention. The Notice makes reference to contraventions of the first, third, fourth, fifth and seventh data protection principles

DM Bedroom Design Ltd
The Information Commissioner served DM Bedroom Design Ltd with a monetary penalty in the sum of £160,000 [pdf] and also served it with an Enforcement Notice [pdf] after finding that the company had contravened Regulation 21 of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations 2003 (“PECR”). This was not the first time that the company had received a monetary penalty from the Commissioner for contravening PECR. The company operated an internal suppression list and also advised the Commissioner that it screened lists against the Telephone Preference Service (“TPS”) list; however, the Commissioner found that the company had not downloaded the TPS list since March 2017.

Solartech North East Limited
Solaretech North East Limited (“Solartech”) was served by the Information Commissioner with a monetary penalty in the amount of £90,000 [pdf] and an enforcement notice [pdf]. The Commissioner found that Solartech had contravened Regulation 21 of PECR by making almost 75,000 calls unlawfully to numbers listed with the Telephone Preference Service. Solartech had previously came to the attention of the Commissioner’s office in 2014 and had bene provided with advice from her office as well as subjected to a period of monitoring. Despite this, and further advice and monitoring in 2016/17 Solartech continued to contravene Regulation 21 of PECR. Solartech sought (unsuccessfully) to blame third parties for these contraventions.

Uber is a popular app which provides taxi services to its users by linking them with Uber drivers in their area. It has bene the subject of many recent legal battles in the Employment field and has now also come to the attention of data protection supervisory authorities in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. The Information Commissioner served Uber with a monetary penalty notice in the amount of £385,000 following a cyber attack. [pdf] The Commissioner found that Uber had breached the seventh data protection principle by failing to have in place adequate technical and organisational measures.

Fixed Penalty Notices: Data Protection Fees
The old notification requirement and fee under the DPA98 has gone, but has been replaced with a new data protection fee payable by controllers who are not exempt from the fee. The new fees regulations are found in The Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018. Organisations who are required to pay the fee and fail to do so may be served with a penalty notice by the Commissioner requiring them to pay a fixed penalty calculated in relation to the amount of the fee payable under the Regulations by the controller. The Commissioner has taken enforcement action, in the form of fixed penalty notices, against a number of controllers in the business, manufacturing and finance sectors for failure to pay their data protection fees; even after being contacted by the Commissioner about the unpaid fee. The Commissioner has not published all of the penalty notices, or even a list of controllers subject to enforcement action, but has instead published “example” notices (which read more like templates than examples) for each of the three sectors.

Alistair Sloan

If you require advice and assistance in connection with any of the data protection/privacy issues above, or any other Information Law matter, please do contact Alistair Sloan on 0141 229 0880 or by sending him an E-mail directly.  You can also follow our dedicated information law twitter account.

Non-payment of Data Protection Fees: The ICO announces first steps in enforcement

Under the Data Protection Act 1998 it was an offence to process personal data without notifying with the Information Commissioner (and paying the required notification fee) unless you were exempt from having to notify. The position changed in May when the GDPR and Data Protection Act 2018 entered into force. The requirement to notify, which had its origin in the 1995 Data Protection Directive, was done away with. This left the UK with a particular problem: the Information Commissioner’s work in relation to the enforcement of data protection was funded entirely by the notification fees paid by data controllers. The solution was to introduce a system of fees which data controllers are required to pay to the Information Commissioner unless they are exempt from having to do so.

The law was also changed so that non payment of the data protection fee by a controller required to pay it is no longer a criminal offence. There are duplicate provisions in law which allow the Information Commissioner to charge these fees. The duplicate provisions are section 137 of the Data Protection Act 2018 and section 108 of the Digital Economy Act 2017. The fees payable are current specified within The Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018, which were made exercising the powers under section 108 of the Digital Economy Act (the Regulations being made prior to the enactment of the Data Protection Act 2018 in May). There are, however, no provisions within the Digital Economy Act 2017 in respect of penalties for non-payment of these fees; the only provision which provides for non-payment of these fees is section 158 of the Data Protection Act 2018, which applies to fees made under section 137 of the Data Protection Act 2018.

In terms of section 158 of the Data Protection Act 2018, the maximum penalty for non-payment of the fee is 150% of the highest charge payable in accordance with the fees regulations, disregarding any discount available under the fees regulations.

It seems that a number of data controllers, who the Commissioner believes should be paying a fee, have not paid their fee. Earlier this week it was announced that the Information Commissioner’s Office had started to take enforcement action against 34 such organisations. The enforcement regime in section 158 of the Data protection Act 2018 applies to regulations made under section 108 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 by virtue of a provision within Schedule 20 to the Data Protection Act 2018 which provides that Regulations made under section 108 of the Digital Economy Act 2017 are to have effect as if they were Regulations made under section 137 of the Data Protection Act 2018 after the coming into force of section 137 of the Data Protection act 2018 (which happened on 25 May 2018).

The Notices of Intent, according to the ICO press release, have been issued to a range of controllers across the public and private sectors and that there are others in the process of being about to be issued. They act as a final warning by the ICO they if organisations don’t pay then they will be the recipient of a fixed penalty. It seems that the ICO is taking a relatively strong stance against non-payers from the outset and data controllers should therefore ensure that they pay their registration fees (where applicable) as and when their notification under the Data Protection Act 1998 comes to an end; or immediately where they were did not notify under the Data Protection Act 1998.

Alistair Sloan

If you would like advice on a data protection or privacy matter than contact Alistair on 0141 229 0880 or you can E-mail him directly. You can also follow our twitter account dedicated to the field of Information law

New Data Protection Fees

The draft Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018 have now been laid before Parliament by the UK Government; it is intended that they will enter into force on 25th May 2018.  The Regulations will introduce the new charging regime that is to replace “notification fees”, once the requirement upon data controllers to notify the Information Commissioner of their processing of personal data.

As expected, the fees will move from the current two-tier structure to a three-tier structure; however, the fee amounts are different to what was proposed in the consultation last year.  The tiers are as follows:

Tier 1
Data controllers who fall into tier 1 will pay an annual fee of £40 to the Information Commissioner.  You fall into this fist tier if you have a turnover of less than or equal to £632,000 for your financial year, or you have no more than 10 members of staff.  Charities also fall into this category as do small occupational pension providers.

Tier 2
Data controllers who fall into tier 2 will pay an annual fee of £60 to the Information Commissioner.  You will fall into this tier if you do not fall into tier 1 and have a turnover less than or equal to £36m for your financial year, or have no more than 250 members of staff.

Tier 3
Data controllers who fall into tier 3 will pay an annual fee of £2,900 to the Information Commissioner.  All non-exempt data controllers who do not fall into the first two tiers will fall into tier three.  The Commissioner has indicated that they will assume that every data controller falls into tier 3 unless they prove the contrary.

These fees do represent a shift from the levels that were consulted on last year.  In particular the top-tier fee that was suggested in October was £1,000 but has now become £2,900.  Data controllers can save themselves a bit of money (a grand total of £5) by paying their annual fees by Direct Debit.

The fees structure that was consulted on had suggested that there would be a premium to be paid by any data controller that also carried out direct marketing activities by electronic means; however, that hasn’t been given effect to in the draft Regulations that have been laid before Parliament,

In terms of working out how many members of staff you have for the purposes of these regulations you can’t just count the number of employees you have.  A member of staff, for the purposes of the Regulations, is: (i) an employee; (ii) a worker, within the meaning of s.296 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992; (iii) an office holder; or (iv) a partner.  Part-time members of staff are counted as one member for these purposes.  To calculate the members of staff you need to work out how many members of staff you employed each month in your last financial year, add together the monthly totals and then divide it by the number of months in your last financial year.  Even members of staff who work outside of the United Kingdom (and, indeed, the European Union) need to be counted.

You do not need to work out how many members of staff you have if you are a charity or if you are a small occupational pension scheme.  Public authorities are required to ignore those reference to turnover and are required only to determine how many members of staff that they have.

If you are processing personal data solely for one of the following eight purposes, you do not need to pay a fee to the Information Commissioner:

  1. Staff Administration;
  2. Advertising, marketing or public relations,
  3. Accounts and records,
  4. Not-for-profit purposes
  5. Personal, family or household affairs
  6. Maintaining a public register
  7. Judicial functions
  8. Processing personal information without an automated system such as a computer

To be able to rely upon this exemption your processing must be solely for one or more of the above noted purposes.  If your processing is for one of those activities in addition to another activity then you will need to pay the fee at the appropriate tier.

In order to ensure that data controllers are paying the correct level of fee, the draft Regulations have provision within them for data controllers to supply various pieces of information to the Information Commissioner; this information fits around establishing which, if any, of the three tiers the controller falls into.

There are a couple of final things to note.  The first is that if you pay a notification fee prior to 25th May 2018 then you will not be required to pay the new fees until that notification has expired.  Therefore, if you are due to notify the ICO under the Data Protection Act 1998 on or before 24th May 2018 you will not be required to pay the new fees until next year.  The final thing to note is that these Regulations are only in draft form; they are still subject to parliamentary approval and could be amended.  However, this blog post reflects the position as contained within the draft Regulations.  Large organisations should, however, be planning to pay significantly more to the Information Commissioner than the £500 they have been paying until now.

Alistair Sloan

If you would like advice or assistance with a privacy or data protection matter, including the GDPR, or any other information law matter then contact Alistair Sloan on 0345 450 0123 or send him an E-mail.