back to article UK data watchdog wants six figures from N Ireland cops after 2023 data leak

Following a data leak that brought "tangible fear of threat to life", the UK's data protection watchdog says it intends to fine the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) £750,000 ($955,798). The August exposure of cops' data affected 9,483 officers and was described by Commissioner Pete O'Doherty of the City of London …

  1. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    The overall cost

    As long as it's just in money, it's not too bad.

    If we start counting bodies, it will have gotten infinitely worse.

  2. Johannesburgel12

    So the people responsible will keep their jobs, the whole police force will be punished by losing a bit of funding to some other branch of government thatbthe government will then transfer right back to make uo for the missing funding, and the officers affected won't get a penny out of this? Is that correct?

    1. SVD_NL Silver badge

      Seems like it...

      I feel like the least they could do is compensate the officers who have to take measures for their own safety.

      Moving houses is expensive, therapy is expensive, some officers may be unable to perform their job out of fear, and in extreme cases even the cost of assuming a new identity entirely.

      This is just tangible costs i can think of.

      Meanwhile the punishment for having this information disclosure happen is a slap on the wrist, making them promise to do better, and moving a bit of money from one pocket to another? I'd be beyond furious if i was one of the officers involved.

  3. Mike 137 Silver badge

    At last ...?

    "He believes large fines alone aren't an effective punishment as they are in the public sector, and therefore the ICO errs on the side of smaller fines in return for greater engagement with the data watchdog itself and greater investment into data protection."

    I have for years advocated penalties that require spending resources (including any necessary money) on remediation, rather than imposition of fines which cause funds to be diverted away from corrective action. Maybe that message is at last beginning to register with the regulator?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: At last ...?

      Indeed. It really makes no sense for a public sector organisation to be fined. I think that in the case of the public sector any fine should be in the form of mandatory spending on prevention. Just depriving them of more money doesn't help the public.

  4. Rich 2 Silver badge

    What is the point?

    What is the fucking point in a government body imposing a fine on another government body?

    Especially when the body being fined is an emergency service - I appreciate this is starting the bleedin’ obvious but all this is doing is taking money away from an organisation that is there to protect and serve the public

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: What is the point?

      But it does send a message to the government that the government really won't stand for this sort of thing and the government must do something about it or the government will be forced to do the same thing the next time the government scews up

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: What is the point?

      More to the point, why aren't some levels of personal liability being applied?

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: What is the point?

        Personal liability from the person who clicked on the attachment, or the sysadmin that allowed attachments or the manager that bought Microsoft instead of insisting that the PSNI created their own secure OS or the minister that didn't give them unlimited funding for computer security?

        Or do we just blame the current chief constable and rotate on the next one till the next scandal?

      2. Terje

        Re: What is the point?

        In cases like this I'm a firm believer in not punishing thee people that made the mistake for the same reasons that you usually don't blame and punish people in aviation investigations. If you do it will only make it that much harder to find and fix problems in the future since people will try to hide them instead of reporting them and cooperating in sorting them out.

  5. Zibob Bronze badge

    "the ICO errs on the side of smaller fines in return for greater engagement with the data watchdog itself and greater investment into data protection."

    Huh, that seems an odd wording. Surely you don't have a choice in engaging with the ICO. There should be no capitulation from.the ICO, no going easy on them just so they will still send Christmas cards.

    They messed up badly, and the ICO is there to try and make sure that doesn't happen.

    Not saying they need a huge fine, but the idea that the body to keep them in line is bowing to them out of fear is just ... Why bother.

    So basically do what you want if you are a public sector, in fact, the bigger the public body you are the more you can screw up, do it up bigly, and the ICO will take pity on you and cut you a break. The more you ruin regular peoples lives the easier they will go on you.

    What a joke.

    1. IGotOut Silver badge

      So you propose a huge fine, which will inevitably result in less Police / Hospital/ Fire Services?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > Surely you don't have a choice in engaging with the ICO.

      If only that was true. I seem to remember reading a couple of years ago that some (local?) government agencies had/have a policy of completely ignoring FOI Requests (i.e. not even acknowledging their receipt) and that the ICO basically could do nothing about this - they could deal with orgs acknowledging receipt and then being late in providing the information or not providing the information at all (without valid reasons) but they couldn't deal with orgs who simply "blackholed FOIRs".

      Even where the ICO can do something regarding an organisation not co-operating properly/fully with them the ICO often do not want to actually take action - I had a FOI Request that the organisation in question did not correctly respond to and so I raised a FOI complaint with the ICO. The ICO spend 10 months chasing the org to get answers to a set of questions, eventually sending them a formal Information Request (which failure to comply with meant they could be found in contempt of court) - the org then answered most, but NOT all, of the questions. I then asked the ICO case officer if they would now proceed with finding them in contempt of court as the org had been given more than enough opportunities and had been warned of the consequences of not complying with the Information Notice, however the ICO just decided to ask the org again to answer the remaining questions (which once again the org delayed in doing) and 3.5 months after being served with the Information Notice the org finally answered the last questions.

      As for PSNI, I raised a FOI Request in February this year and received a receipt acknowledgement the same day, chased them in March after they missed the 20-working-days-response requirement, received a same day email that this was "due to an ongoing high demand of FOI's[sic] requests submitted to the PSNI" and "We hope to respond to your request as soon as possible". I then raised a FOI complaint regarding PSNI with the ICO. ICO responded: "I have contacted the public authority and asked it to respond to your request within 10 working days". This triggered PSNI to respond to my FOIR in late April. As there were issues with PSNI's response I emailed them again in early May requesting some clarifications - this email however was treated as a *NEW* FOI Request (despite me providing the previous FOIR's reference number), I emailed back 4 days later pointing out this mistake and requesting they confirm that my previous email was being treated as part of the original FOIR - that was 10 days ago and I've had no reply yet from PSNI.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Partner works for a government agency that deals with environmental permits.

        The majority of their FOI requests are from the same few big businesses who are in court appealing permit denials or enforcement.

        A lot of them are trying to get personal information on staff involved in the court case so they can look into their background and make an claim of bias, or get details of internal decisions to use in court.

        So every FOI request involves weeks of work, lawyers, checking minutes, depositions on who said what at which meeting,

  6. Terry 6 Silver badge

    Fining public bodies

    Touched upon by Johannesburgel12

    A public body is given money (usually of course insufficent money) to perform a role that the public asks it to perform on their behalf. And if it screws up some of the money is removed- so that the public is punished by receiving an even poorer service.

    The CEOs should be fined, arguably. But not the recipients of the services.

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