Public sector responsible for the majority of data breaches
High-profile data breaches such as those at BA, Equifax and Ticketmaster are rarely out of the news. But research shows that the UK's public sector has been responsible for the most offences over the last eight years. Furthermore, when it comes to privacy violations, over the same period, the ICO has issued more fines for data breach offences than for other wrongdoings such as email/SMS spam and nuisance calls.
According to the figures:
- The ICO fined organisations a total of£23.5 million between 2011 and 2019
- £12.6 million of this was issued for data breach offences
- Public sector organisations have attracted 54% of all fines since 2010
- All public sector fines were for data breaches
- Local councils were responsible for half of all data breaches
- All data breach incidents involving public sector organisations were down to human error.
Public sector data breaches are all too common
Unfortunately, the figures don't come as a surprise to our data breach lawyers. Talking about the findings, senior solicitor Christine Sabino said:
"Data breaches and cybercrime are big news. But, while it is mass privacy cases that make the headlines, smaller, individual data breaches are causing misery and upset to people across the UK.
"I am currently dealing with many cases on behalf of clients who have had their data mishandled by organisations such as local health authorities and councils. And, I've seen first-hand just how devastating the experience can be.
"For example, in a recent case, a local authority sent a copy of a court order containing sensitive personal information about our client and their neighbour to his neighbour by mistake. The neighbour opened and read the letter and shared it with other people in the local community. The contents of the letter were highly sensitive and caused distress and embarrassment to our client and his family. As such, the consequences of the error and the impact on his mental health were far-reaching."
Public trust is being abused
According to the ICO, the British public has significantly more trust and confidence in the NHS, the police, and national governmental bodies than in private companies. But Christine believes that this trust is being abused. She added:
"Public sector bodies handle some of our most sensitive and personal data. And we have the right to expect this will be looked after. Adequate and robust protections are especially important as the world becomes increasingly digital. Furthermore, with human error the leading cause of data breaches, public sector staff must have the training, knowledge and ability to handle our data securely.
"Crucially, where a privacy violation occurs, it's vital that people know who they can turn to for help."
Protecting your interests
An established and trusted firm, at Hayes Connor Solicitors we have been helping people to claim compensation for over 50 years. We are true experts in data breach law. This is all we do, and we have been doing it longer than most other solicitors. As such, we lead our field when it comes to understanding the complexities involved.
At Hayes Connor, we help you to claim compensation and steer you through the aftermath of a public sector data breach; minimising the impact on you as much as possible. And, because we are passionate about securing justice for our clients, we offer no-win, no-fee funding arrangements to reduce the pressure at an already difficult time.
But more than this, we also understand the emotional distress that a data breach can cause. As such, as well as providing you with all the legal expertise you need, we will also handle your case with compassion and care.
To speak to Christine, or another of our data protection experts about starting a claim, please contact us for a free initial assessment of your case.
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 The analysis does not include the recent fines issued to British Airways Marriott International as these are currently under appeal.