EU privacy fines near £100m, but regulators are hungry for more

Over 160,000 data breaches recorded under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) so far, with bills totalling £97m, but compliance organisations are hungry for more

by Patrick Sullivan, Political Editor on 20 January 2020 09:07

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The EU’s much debated General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has so far generated fines in the region of 114 million euros ($126 million) in fines since it was introduced just under two years ago, according to official data.

Since the directive became law in May 2018, the GDPR has led to over 160,000 data breach notifications across Europe, a figure collated by international law firm DLA Piper. According to news reports, Ross McKean, a partner at DLA Piper, claimed that the fines were just the beginning, telling on media outlet, “we’re still in the very early days” of enforcement. The largest fine to be issued under the GDPR to date was a penalty from the French data protection regulator.

The CNIL fined Google 50 million euros last year for alleged infringements of GDPR. Those infringements were related to transparency and a lack of valid consent. Under strict GDPR rules, a company can be fined either 20 million euros or up to 4% of its annual revenues, whichever is the greater amount. Companies with high volumes of data like social media sites are said to be particularly vulnerable.

The news comes as research from Encompass Corporation has suggested banks and financial services companies worldwide have been hit with around £6bn in fines for breaching Anti-money laundering (AML) legislation.

Speaking to The Commentator about the appetite for EU regulators to issue larger fines, Wayne Johnson, CEO and co-founder, Encompass Corporation said, “It’s no surprise that data privacy watchdogs are gearing up to make full use of their expanded powers after collecting around £100m in fines for data violations.

Johnson continued, “Since the arrival of the GDPR, large companies and banks have been scrambling to implement effective policies to adhere to the legislation, with mixed results so far. This news should serve as a wake-up call for financial services organisations to ensure full compliance with existing and incoming legislation. With new figures revealing that banks were hit with over £6bn globally for breaches of anti-money laundering (AML) regulation, the importance of adhering to strict compliance rules cannot be underestimated. Moving forward, the ability to know your customer and manage their data proficiently should be a top priority for banks of all sizes.”

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