Does the ICO have enough power to stop data breaches?


ANALYSIS Last week was a big one for data breaches in the UK, as Zurich was hit with a 2.27 million fine for losing customer information.

It was the biggest fine ever handed out by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) for a data security failing.

Later in the week, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) found both Yorkshire Building Society and DSG Retail, the owner of PC World, in breach of the Data Protection Act.

In the case of DSG Retail, eight customer credit agreements containing personal and financial data were found in a skip outside a PC World store. Yorkshire Building Society had an unencrypted laptop containing customer information stolen.

In both cases no fine was handed out, even though the ICO now has the ability to hand out a 500,000 penalty for "serious" breaches of the Act.

When the new powers were announced, the ICO said the information Commissioner will adopt "a pragmatic and proportionate approach to issuing an organisation with a monetary penalty."

It added: "Factors will be taken into account including an organisation's financial resources, sector, size and the severity of the data breach, to ensure that undue financial hardship is not imposed on an organisation."

We asked a range of experts working in the data protection sphere whether they believe the ICO is right in its proportionate strategy or if it is time the regulatory body started wielding its stick some more.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.