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29 November 2018

The ICO has issued the first fines to organisations who have not paid the data protection fee. It said:

“All organisations, companies and sole traders that process personal data must pay an annual fee to the ICO unless they are exempt. Fines for not paying can be up to a maximum of £4,350.

This follows regulations which came into force alongside the new Data Protection Act on 25 May 2018.

These first organisations have been fined for not renewing their fees following their expiry and more fines are set to follow. More than 900 notices of intent to fine have been issued by the ICO since September and more than 100 penalty notices are being issued in this first round.

The money collected from the data protection fee funds the ICO’s work to uphold information rights such as investigations into data breaches and complaints, our popular advice line, and guidance and resources for organisations to help them understand and comply with their data protection obligations. The ICO has grown over the last two years to meet its wider data protection remit and responsibilities following GDPR. It now employs 670 staff.

Fines range from £400 to £4,000 depending on the size and turnover of the organisation. Aggravating factors may lead to an increase in the fine up to a maximum of £4,350. All fines recovered do not go to the ICO, they go to the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund.

The data protection fee is set by Government which has a statutory duty to ensure the ICO is adequately funded, and is part of the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018. It came into force on 25 May to coincide with the new Data Protection Act (2018) and the General Data Protection Regulation. And it replaces the need to notify or register with the ICO.

Under the funding model, set by Government, organisations are divided into three tiers based on their size, turnover and whether it is a public authority or charity.

For very small organisations, the fee won’t be any higher than the £35 they paid before May 2018 (if they take advantage of a £5 reduction for paying by direct debit).

Larger organisations will be required to pay £2,900. The fee is higher because these organisations are likely to hold and process the largest volumes of data and therefore represent a greater level of risk.

If you’re not sure whether you need to pay the fee, you should check the ICO’s website which has lots of information and a very quick and easy self-assessment test.

Organisations that have a current registration (or notification) under the 1998 Act – prior to 25 May 2018 – do not have to pay the new fee until that registration has expired. You can check if your fee is due for renewal here.”

By David Petty

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