THE INFORMATION COMMISSIONER'S OFFICE (ICO) handed £3.245m worth of fines in 2016, an increase of £1.2m from 2015.
That's according to the latest report from PwC, which analysed the ICO data protection enforcement actions over the past five years.
It found that the number of data privacy issues had almost doubled between 2015 and 2016 from 18 to 35, and that the UK was one of the most active regions for regulatory enforcement action in Europe last year, along with Italy which handed out €3.3m worth of fines.
Overall, the UK's data watchdog made more privacy enforcements in 2016 (104) than in any of the previous four years. This included monetary penalty notices, prosecutions, enforcement notices and undertakings.
Another study of the ICO's figures by security software company Egress found that human error was the main cause of the 221 breaches that took place between October and December 2016.
The top ranking incident types were theft or loss of paperwork (24 per cent), data sent to the wrong recipient via fax or post (19 per cent), data sent by email to the incorrect recipient (nine per cent) or failure to redact data (five per cent). 'Other failures' accounted for 22 per cent of the incidents.
Egress also found a spike in data breaches within UK healthcare organisations; between January 2013 and December 2016, the health sector suffered 2,447 incidents and accounted for 43 per cent of all reported incidents in the time period. By contrast, the second highest was local government with 642 reported incidents - an 11 per cent share.
However, Egress found that while healthcare had the highest volume of incidents, others are increasing more rapidly. It said that security incidents reported across all industries had increased by almost one-third (32 per cent) since 2014.
With GDPR on the horizon, PwC has urged organisations to ensure they prepare for compliance before May nest year or face far higher fines than those the ICO has been giving out over the past few years.
The ICO can currently issue fined of up to £500,000, but this is set to increase to up to four per cent of global turnover under the new regulation. µ
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