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  • International Workplace
  • 18 December 2018
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Not paid the data protection fee? First fines issued

The ICO has issued the first fines for not paying the data protection fee to organisations across a range of sectors, including business services, construction, finance, health and childcare.

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.

Paul Arnold, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at the ICO, said:

"Following numerous attempts to collect the fees via our robust collection process, we are now left with no option but to issue fines to these organisations. They must now pay these fines within 28 days or risk further legal action.

“You are breaking the law if you process personal data or are responsible for processing it and do not pay the data protection fee to the ICO. We produce lots of guidance for organisations on our website to help them decide whether they need to pay and how they can do this."

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. Fines recovered do not go to the ICO, but 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.