Ministry of Justice
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Government to consult on £500,000 penalties for serious breaches of data protection principles

The government has today launched a consultation seeking views on implementing a maximum penalty of half a million pounds for serious breaches of the data protection principles.

The consultation, 'Civil Monetary Penalties: Setting the maximum penalty', asks whether new fines of up to £500,000 will provide the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) with a proportionate sanction to impose on those seriously contravening the data protection principles.

Justice Minister, Michael Wills, said:

'The government is committed to ensuring that personal data is handled and processed responsibly and lawfully. We want to ensure that the Information Commissioner's Office has the powers it needs and is able to impose robust penalties on those who commit serious breaches of data protection principles.'

Following discussions with the ICO, the government proposes that a fixed maximum penalty will give the ICO the flexibility and discretion to deal effectively with a large number and range of data controllers.

The consultation closes on 21 December 2009.

Notes to editors

  1. The ICO will publish detailed guidance showing the criteria it will use and the circumstances it will consider when issuing Civil Monetary Penalties.
  2. For more information and to respond: Civil monetary penalties consultation
  3. The ICO's power to impose Civil Monetary Penalties was inserted into the Data Protection Act 1998 through section 144 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. Sections 55A to 55E of the Data Protection Act contain the provisions on Civil Monetary Penalties.
  4. For more information, please contact the Ministry of Justice press office on 0203 334 3536.

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Newsdesk: 020 3334 3536
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