Large GDPR fines 'just around the corner'
The first major fine for a GDPR breach is just months away, according to a legal expert.
Paul Knight, partner at national law firm Mills & Reeve, believes the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) is set to make an example out of high-profile offenders.
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25 and companies found breaching the legislation could be fined up to €20 million or 4 per cent of its annual global turnover.
Speaking at a BusinessCloud's 'Don't let GDPR be a straitjacket' roundtable, Knight believes the watchdog will be looking for an opportunity to issue a penalty that will make people "sit up and take notice".
Last month ticket sales website Ticketmaster admitted that it had suffered a security breach that affected up to 40,000 UK customers.
Although the company was reported as saying it has complied with GDPR, the incident has fuelled speculation among data protection experts that a significant fine could be on the horizon.
Knight, who heads up the commercial, IP and IT team at the firm’s Manchester’s office, told BusinessCloud: "I do think the Information Commissioner’s Office will be focusing their resources on breaches by high-profile companies like Ticketmaster – looking for an opportunity to issue a fine that will make people sit up and take notice.
"There are currently some investigations ongoing and I anticipate that maybe we might see a high-profile fine in the next couple of months.
"I think it's the fines that will make people take data protection seriously again."
Knight was joined on the panel by Jan Trevalyan, co-founder of DDC Group which indirectly employs 5,000 people across the world. He agrees that the ICO will be "looking to make a statement".
"I do think there’s going to be a big fine coming for one of the big guys," he said.
The other speakers on the roundtable were: Kristina McGuirk, marketing director at UKFast; Dream Agility co-founder and CEO Elizabeth Clark; Moneypenny’s head of IT Mel Carlen; and Nicola Frost, head of legal and company secretary at UKFast.