back to article Privacy watchdog ICO slashes its fines in half

The total value of fines issued by the UK Information Commissioner's Office has halved compared with last year – despite the watchdog receiving roughly the same number of complaints about data protection. In 2014/15, the ICO issued £1.1m in so-called civil monetary penalties, £386,000 of which were for companies behind …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is and always has been

    a toothless organisation, there merely to pay lip service and to appease the masses.

    Fines halved (not that they ever enforce them it would seem) expect incidents of spam sms etc to triple...

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It is and always has been

      The real reason fines have halved is that the ICO is terrified of issuing serious penalties against private sector offenders. There are less local government/NHS bodies being sanctioned now, and they were the only one ones the ICO was comfortable hitting with big numbers.

  2. A Non e-mouse Silver badge
    FAIL

    If they were seeking (more) court convictions against companies for data protection issues (e.g. prison or shutting them down) then I'd be sympathetic to the reduced fines. But reducing the fines and doing nothing else???

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    " the ICO said issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy."

    True. Jail time and/or loss of job and income for the high-ups in the guilty organisations is the only deterrent.

    Failing that, how about the ICO investigate each complaint and, when proven to their satisfaction, publish the full details for all of us to see - exposing the guilty as thoroughly as possible?

    1. JasonB
      Mushroom

      Re: " the ICO said issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy."

      So what happened to fining public bodies for breaches to force them to change their outlook on privacy?

      I've attended conferences where the ICO rep stated categorically that fining bodies that breached Data Protection rules was the only way to change their outlook.

      Why is it okay to heavily fine hospitals for breaches, but try not to hurt commercial organisations? This stance reeks of corruption.

      Perhaps if the private companies were involved in life saving operations or treating the sick the ICO might take a hard line approach with them.

      The ICO seems to be staffed by a corrupt bunch of incompetents. Time for the lot of them to be sacked and replaced by people with some integrity.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: " the ICO said issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy."

        I'm inclined to agree with your last para, JasonB, but it does contain a fatal flaw : where on earth do you find someone with integrity in any area remotely related to government?

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: " the ICO said issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy."

        "Why is it okay to heavily fine hospitals for breaches, but try not to hurt commercial organisations? This stance reeks of corruption."

        Govt. have promised not to reduce NHS budgets but have invented a way to claw it back. Budget reduction by the back door.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: " the ICO said issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy."

      "Jail time and/or loss of job and income for the high-ups in the guilty organisations is the only deterrent."

      It would be interesting to see what the threat of a company/org and its principals being banned from handling personal data or inciting others to do so might achieve.

      Kind of like company director bans, but in different areas.

  4. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    Start putting *senior* people in prison.

    Once the first ICO does some serious time the rest of them will start paying attention.

    After all it's not the UK has any problem putting people in jail with, IIRC, proportionately the highest number of people in prison of any country in (at least) Western Europe.

    Except the last attempt to get this activated (I believe it's in the relevant legislation) failed because, once again, the Home Secretary was clueless ar***ole irresolute.

  5. Wolfclaw

    ICO Waste Of Space

    I heard somewhere that the ICO was told to back off big business that screwed up, by some faceless bureaucrat, wish I could remember the posting, but hey, we all know it is probably true !

  6. Ole Juul

    50% off

    Or is that two for one?

  7. Graham Marsden
    Holmes

    issuing fines "left, right and centre" is not the way to safeguard privacy.

    Of course it's not, because the people at the top who are responsible for company policies don't give a damn.

    It's not going to affect them, they're still going to get their salaries and bonuses, the company might declare a slightly smaller dividend, but that's just a pin-prick to a big multi-national and whilst the users whose privacy was compromised might complain, they have no power to do anything because the big shareholders don't care either.

    If the ICO actually started fining individuals or, even better, putting them in prison, THEN we might actually see some action being taken.

    But until that point, the executives will still be laughing all the way to the bank.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ICO ARE effective!

    I've been getting robo-calls from PPI-scum since April. Reported dutifully to the ICO (something like 30 reports). AND THEY did react, as recently I've been getting those robo-calls from a different phone number. And they've changed the message ever so slightly! So stop telling me ICO are useless! For all those ££££ paid to them in wages, bonuses, etc, since April at least - they have actually forced the scammers to act! Call it what you want, I call it a value for money, no less!

  9. Andy Livingstone

    Oh No They're not

    Transfer the responsibility to the TV Licence chaps and see how the job could/should be done. Just how many "warnings", with a straight face and no shame, do they issue before actually taking action?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Oh No They're not

      Thats the difference between rich people breaking rules (companies breaching DPA) and poor people breaking rules (failing to pay TV Licence fee).....

      One gets a light telling off at best with a "must try harder next time," the other gets Mr Angry.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Oh No They're not

        I have been getting the Mr Angry letters for the last decade - despite having had a license the entire period.

        Crapita isn't a good comparison to bring up.

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