New Years Honours Data Leak

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Data Breach Claims Article

07 January, 2020

The Government are likely to face a number of claims for compensation following the leak of personal data into the public domain after 1,097 work and home addresses were published online, including those of celebrities, politicians, diplomats and senior police officers*.

The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) provide that personal information must be processed in a manner that ensures appropriate security of personal data, including protection against unauthorised or unlawful processing, accidental loss, and destruction or damage, through use of appropriate technical or organisational measures.

In this recent case, the information has been released without authority, a clear breach of General Data Protection Regulations .

What sort of damages might an individual receive?

General Data Protection Regulation is a developing area of law. In order to claim damages for a breach of data, an individual will have to demonstrate that the breach has caused some harm and/or loss.

The aim of compensation is to try and place the individual back in the same position as if the breach had not taken place. The compensation awarded can include injury to feelings and any consequential financial loss. The bands of damages can be summarised as follows:

  • Lower Band - £900 - £8,600 (less serious cases where the discrimination is a one off incident or isolated in nature. For example, it did not happen in a public place, apologies were made.)
  • Middle Band - £8,600 - £25,700 (serious cases that do not fall within the higher band)
  • Higher Band - £25,700 - £42,900 (lengthy campaign of discrimination and harassment - particular rude or insensitive language, public place, whether it relates to personal/intimate part of life, depression or illness is caused as a result of the act of discrimination.)

In very serious cases, aggravated Damages can be awarded where:

  • There was a motive for the wrongful disclosure or;
  • The conduct of the other party during the litigation is considered to be unmeritorious or aggressive.

The release of individuals private addresses will impact some more than others. It might be said that Elton John's address can easily be located by a quick search via the internet and the impact is less for him, however anyone with a lesser profile may not be so easy to locate. If for example they have to move for fear of harassment, the impact is far greater and the damages are likely to be more significant.

The Information commissioner will no doubt be looking into this. The ICO doesn't have the authority to award compensation, but they can impose heavy fines.

* https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/new-year-honours-whitehall-told-to-come-clean-over-data-leak-w5zs5gxvn

If you have suffered a breach of data please contact our Data Breach Claims team on 01254 872111.

For more information contact John Bennett in our Data Breach Claims department via email or phone on 01254 872111. Alternatively send any question through to Forbes Solicitors via our online Contact Form.

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