In the past two days, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued (potential) GDPR fines of £183.39m and £99.2m on British Airways (BA) and Marriott International Inc., respectively. These are the first fines to be issued by the ICO under the GDPR, and the biggest fines issued by an EU Data Protection Authority (DPA) to date. As the fines affected individuals in multiple Member States, the ‘one stop shop’ provisions in the GDPR apply, and the ICO has therefore been required to liaise with other EU DPAs.
The fines highlight the importance of companies ensuring that robust security measures are in place to protect personal data and undertaking appropriate due diligence in corporate mergers and acquisitions. As the EU DPAs are encouraged to adopt a consistent approach to the imposition of administrative fines, the ICO’s fines serve as a warning to companies of the level of GDPR fines that may be imposed by the Irish Data Protection Commission for data breaches resulting from weak security measures.
The ICO does not routinely publish notices of intent to levy a penalty, however the ICO’s policy on “Communicating Regulatory Enforcement Activity” states that such notices may be published in certain circumstances, including where the matter is already in the public domain; there are financial market reporting obligations; or it is necessary for international regulatory cooperation. The ICO statements of intent to fine BA and Marriott were issued in response to an announcement by BA to the London Stock Exchange, and a filing by Marriott with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, that the ICO intended to fine them for breaches of data protection law.