Penalties in Europe / What the GDPR has done
The European Data Protection Regulation has been in force since 25.5.2018. In recent months, the issue had disappeared from the spotlight. Many entrepreneurs think that the data protection authority “does not punish anyway, but only warns”. But reality shows a different picture.
Penalties in Europe
The big companies (Google, Uber, Facebook, …) were held accountable with severe penalties. Google has been fined 50 million euros in France for violating information obligations.
But it didn’t just hit the big guys. In Austria, a betting office was fined EUR 5,280 for illegal video surveillance. In Hungary, a company refused to hand over data and paid a fine of 6.5% of annual turnover. So it’s also hitting small and medium-sized businesses.
There are numerous penalties in Europe ranging from EUR 100,000 to EUR 600,000 for medium to large companies. In Portugal, a hospital was fined because access rights to medical records were deemed grossly negligent. This hospital employed 300 physicians but more than 800 people had access to patient data as physicians. Another example is Heathrow Airport, where an unencrypted memory stick containing entry data was lost. This loss and the lack of employee training was penalized with a fine of EUR 135,000.
The official procedure until a DSGVO penalty becomes known takes months. This does not mean that the authorities are asleep, but arises from the fact that defendants and complainants have to answer queries from the authority and have several weeks to do so. Only when a decision has been made in the matter will it be considered whether and how severely to punish. That is why the first penalties became known only after more than 6 months.
The most important decisions of the Austrian data protection authority can be found in the legal information system at https://www.ris.bka.gv.at/Dsk/. Visit https://easygdpr.eu/de/dsgvo-strafen/ for more information on European GDPR decisions and GDPR penalties .
What has the GDPR done?
Data protection is not new. In Austria, the first data protection law was enacted in 1978. Compared to the GDPR, however, the old regulation was relatively toothless. The maximum fine was 25,000 EUR.
The GDPR has created a Europe-wide minimum standard for data protection and given authorities and data subjects effective tools to enforce data protection – also against non-European companies.
The GDPR has led to a rethink at many companies. Data protection has gone from being a willingly ignored sideline of the IT department to a key management task. The implementation of the GDPR has revealed serious security gaps in the existing IT infrastructure of many companies. This alone has taken us a huge step forward with the GDPR in preventing damage from data loss and data theft.
Computer crime is becoming more and more effective. Unfortunately, criminals are better at keeping up with the state of the art here than many – especially small and medium-sized – companies. In recent months, we have seen an increase in phishing attempts, where the mails used to steal credentials with seemingly real senders and correct text are almost indistinguishable from the real ones. Malicious programs are also becoming more and more effective and encrypt entire networks in order to extort higher amounts of money.
Not only the legal consequences of data loss according to the GDPR, but above all the practical, direct consequences of a data loss , as well as the damage to the image of companies ensure that data protection will remain an important topic in the coming years.
The GDPR has also become an international model. Among other things, Japan has enacted a data protection law modeled on the GDPR. California has also enacted a data protection law that incorporates many, but not all, of the GDPR requirements.
The GDPR thus ensures a slow change in corporate culture. Data protection thus becomes just as much a matter of course as correct accounting.