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€114m in fines given by European authorities under GDPR

by LLB Reporter

Over 160,000 data breach notifications have been reported across the 28 European Union Member States plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein since the GDPR came into force on 25 May 2018. According to DLA Piper’s latest GDPR Data Breach Survey, data protection regulators have imposed €114m (£97m) in fines under the GDPR regime for a wide range of GDPR infringements, not just for data breach.

France, Germany and Austria topped the rankings for the total value of GDPR fines imposed with just over €51m, €24.5m and €18m respectively.  The Netherlands, Germany and the UK topped the table for the number of data breaches notified to regulators with 40,647, 37,636 and 22,181 notifications each.

The daily rate of breach notifications has also increased by 12.6% from 247 notifications per day for the first eight months of GDPR from 25 May 2018 to 27 January 2019, to 278 breach notifications per day for the current year.

Weighting the results against country populations, The Netherlands again come top with 147.2 reported breaches per 100,000 people, up from 89.8 per 100,000 people last year, followed by Ireland and Denmark. From the 27 countries that provided data on breach notifications, the UK, Germany and France ranked thirteenth, eleventh and twenty-third respectively on a reported fine per capita basis. Italy, Romania and Greece reported the fewest number of breaches per capita.  Italy, a country with a population of over 62 million people, only recorded 1886 data breach notifications illustrating the cultural differences in approach to breach notification.

The highest GDPR fine to date was €50m imposed by the French data protection regulator on Google, for alleged infringements of the transparency principle and lack of valid consent, rather than for data breach.  Following two high profile data breaches, the UK ICO published two notices of intent to impose fines in July 2019 totalling £282m (€329m) although neither of these were finalised as at the date of this report.

Commenting on the report, Ross McKean, a partner at DLA Piper specialising in cyber and data protection, said, “GDPR has driven the issue of data breach well and truly into the open.  The rate of breach notification has increased by over 12% compared to last year’s report and regulators have been busy road-testing their new powers to sanction and fine organisations.

“The total amount of fines of €114m imposed to date is relatively low compared to the potential maximum fines that can be imposed under GDPR, indicating that we are still in the early days of enforcement.  We expect to see momentum build with more multi-million Euro fines being imposed over the coming year as regulators ramp up their enforcement activity.”

Patrick Van Eecke, chair of DLA Piper’s international data protection practice said, “The early GDPR fines raise many questions. Ask two different regulators how GDPR fines should be calculated and you will get two different answers.  We are years away from having legal certainty on this crucial question, but one thing is for certain, we can expect to see many more fines and appeals over the coming years.”

Not all Member States of the European Economic Area make breach notification statistics publicly available. Many have only provided statistics for part of the period covered by this report so the figures have been rounded up and in some cases extrapolated to provide best approximations.  Similarly not all GDPR fines are publicly reported.

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