The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has revealed that it dealt with a record number of data protection incidents, nuisance marketing calls and individual complaints in the past year.
According to its latest annual report, for 2016/17 the regulator received more reported data protection breaches and fined more companies for unlawful activities than any previous year.
The ICO attributed the rise in complaints to its free telephone helpline, live chat service and online reporting tool, which it insisted all helped make it easier for the public to report their concerns to the regulator. It added that audits and new self-assessment tools helped increase organisations’ awareness of their responsibilities.
The statistics show that data protection complaint cases rose to 18,354, around 2,000 more than the previous year. Some 2,565 self-reported data breaches resulted in 16 civil monetary penalties totalling £1,624,500 for serious breaches across a range of public, private and voluntary sectors.
The ICO received more than 166,000 reports about nuisance calls and texts and issued a record number of 23 fines in this regard, totalling £1,923,000, although there are ongoing issues over how much of this money has been recovered. The ICO also issued nine enforcement notices and placed 31 organisations under monitoring.
“Although calls to our helpline were slightly down on last year at 189,942, this was more than made up by new channels including our live chat service, which received 18,864 contacts. Letter and email contacts remained similar to last year,” the report stated.
Deputy commissioner Simon Entwisle added: “We have advised and educated organisations to help them work within the law and we have taken action when they’ve fallen short of the mark.”
He insisted the ICO was working hard to ensure businesses are compliant with GDPR, coming into force next May. “We are working closely with organisations to help them understand their obligations and be ready for the new rules,” Entwisle said.
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