GDPR: Data breach complaints up 160% since new digital privacy rules


Data breach complaints have risen 160% since GDPR came into force, according to new figures.

Complaints to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about potential data breaches have more than doubled since stricter regulations came into force in May.

The ICO received 6,281 complaints between 25 May and 3 July this year, a 160 per cent rise on the same period in 2017, figures from commercial law firm EMW show.

Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), companies can be fined €20 million (£16.5m) or 4 per cent of their worldwide turnover, significantly more than the maximum penalty of £500,000 available under the old law.

EMW said that greater media attention and government advertising have boosted individuals’ awareness of their data rights and there is now a more public focus on the accountability of businesses in this area.

The figures show that firms holding sensitive personal information, including financial services, education and health were the most complained about, accounting for more than a quarter of the total.

Several companies have come under scrutiny for large-scale data breaches in recent months. On Friday, T-Mobile revealed that it had been hit by hackers who gained access to the details of around two million of its US customers.

Ian Woolley, Chief Revenue Officer at Ensighten, said: “Our research revealed that 45 per cent of UK businesses had set money aside in anticipation of regulatory fines before the GDPR deadline – knowing that they would likely fall short of being compliant. But consumer trust has even more value in this new data age and these complaints reinforce that it’s fragile.”

“Governing bodies need to be tighter on the misuse of data and follow through with their word of placing financial sanctions on those who do not adhere to the regulation. And brands need to stop viewing GDPR as just a legal hurdle to jump. Consistent data governance is the only way to ensure that brands aren’t putting their customers or reputation at risk.”

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