In today’s digital age, where information is a valuable asset, personal data breaches have become a significant threat to our privacy and security. A data breach occurs when unauthorised individuals gain access to sensitive personal information, such as your name, address, email, passwords, or financial details. This breach can happen through hacking incidents, employee negligence, or even physical theft of personal data devices. The consequences of such breaches can be far-reaching, ranging from identity theft, financial loss, to emotional distress caused by a breach of confidentiality. In this comprehensive guide, we shed light on examples of personal data breaches that have occurred and explain the avenues available to claim compensation under current legislation.
Additionally, we will delve into the relevant laws, including the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which grants individuals certain rights regarding their personal data and imposes obligations on organisations to protect it.
Furthermore, you will find insights into various types of data breaches, practical steps to take if you suspect your data has been compromised, and the legal process involved in filing data breach claims.
Take control of your personal data today. Additionally, if you need further assistance or wish to start a claim, I encourage you to get in touch with our expert advisors. We are here to support you every step of the way, ensuring that your voice is heard and your rights are protected.
What Are Personal Data Breaches?
A data breach occurs when unauthorised individuals gain access to sensitive or confidential information held by an organisation.
What Laws Protect Personal Data?
To protect personal data from unauthorised access and misuse, laws have been put in place. In the UK, the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) are two significant pieces of legislation. These laws outline the responsibilities of organisations in handling personal data and provide individuals with certain rights regarding their data privacy.
How Do Personal Data Breaches Happen – Examples
To understand how data breaches happen, let’s explore how organisations typically store and process personal data.
Organisations store personal data in various ways, such as in databases, cloud servers, or physical files. For example, a retail company may maintain a customer database containing names, addresses, and payment information. Similarly, a healthcare provider might store patient records electronically, including medical histories and personal details.
To process this data, organisations use computer systems and software. They may employ customer relationship management (CRM) platforms, financial management systems, or human resources databases. For instance, an e-commerce company might utilise an online shopping platform to handle customer orders and payment processing.
Despite these legal protections, data breaches can occur. A breach might happen due to a cyber attack, such as a hacking incident where hackers gain unauthorised access to an organisation’s network. Alternatively, a breach might result from employee negligence, such as mishandling or losing physical documents containing personal data.
Who Is Eligible To Claim Compensation?
When considering eligibility for making a data breach claim, several criteria need to be met. One crucial factor is establishing that the data controller, the organisation responsible for the personal data, has acted wrongfully. Here are the key elements to consider:
- Duty of Care – The data controller has a legal obligation to protect personal data under data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). They must demonstrate that they have taken reasonable steps to safeguard the personal data in their possession.
- Breach of Duty – To establish a claim, it is necessary to prove that the data controller breached their duty of care. This can include instances where the controller failed to implement adequate security measures, neglected to train staff on data protection practices, or disregarded industry standards for data security.
- Causation – The claimant must demonstrate a direct link between the data breach and the resulting harm. This can include financial loss, identity theft, emotional distress, or reputational damage. It is crucial to establish that the breach was a significant factor in causing the harm suffered.
- Wrongful Act – It must be shown that the data controller acted wrongfully, either through negligence, non-compliance with data protection laws, or a deliberate act that led to the breach. The claimant needs to demonstrate that the breach occurred due to the data controller’s actions or lack thereof.
Examples Of Personal Data Breaches
In the UK, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is responsible for enforcing data protection laws. They have the power to impose fines on organisations that fail to adequately protect personal data or violate data protection regulations. The fines can be substantial and serve as a deterrent to organisations that do not take data security seriously.
Here, we give some examples of personal data breaches that have led to the ICO acting to enforce data protection laws.
- British Airways Data Breach. In 2018, British Airways suffered a significant data breach where cybercriminals gained unauthorised access to customer data, including personal and financial information. The breach affected approximately 500,000 customers, leading to a substantial ICO fine.
- TalkTalk Cyber Attack. Additionally, in 2015, TalkTalk, a telecommunications company, experienced a cyber attack resulting in the compromise of customer data, including names, addresses, and financial details. The breach affected thousands of customers, and TalkTalk received a substantial fine from the ICO for inadequate security measures.
- Dixons Carphone Warehouse Breach. Furthermore, In 2017, Dixons Carphone Warehouse, a retail company, experienced a data breach where hackers gained unauthorised access to the personal data of millions of customers. The breach involved personal information such as names, addresses, and email addresses, leading to a regulatory investigation by the ICO.
It’s important to remember that even if an organisation is fined by the ICo, this does not automatically lead to compensation. Please call an advisor, who could assess whether you could claim compensation.
What Damages Could I Claim In A Data Breach Case?
When filing a compensation claim for a data breach, there are two main types of damages that can be claimed: material damages and non-material damages. Let’s explore each of them:
- Material Damages: Material damages refer to the tangible or financial losses suffered as a result of the data breach. These may include:
- Financial Loss: Compensation can be sought for any direct monetary losses incurred, such as fraudulent transactions on bank accounts or credit card misuse resulting from the breach.
- Identity Theft Expenses: Costs related to identity theft protection services, credit monitoring, or legal assistance in resolving identity theft issues.
2. Non-Material Damages: Non-material damages, also known as general damages, are related to the emotional or psychological harm suffered as a result of the data breach.
Determining the appropriate level of compensation for non-material damages can be challenging. The Judicial College Guidelines in the UK provide useful guidance on the potential range of compensation for psychological injuries resulting from data breaches.
If you believe you have suffered material or non-material damages due to a data breach, it is crucial to seek advice from expert advisors specialising in data breach compensation claims. They can assess the specifics of your case, gather relevant evidence, and provide guidance on the compensation you may be entitled to.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch with our experienced advisors for further assistance. They are here to help you navigate the complexities of data breach claims and ensure your rights are protected.
No Win No Fee Claims – How To Get Started
No Win No Fee claims, made under conditional fee agreements (CFAs), allow individuals to pursue a compensation claim for a data breach with the help of a data breach solicitor, no matter their financial standing. Here’s an overview of how such claims work:
- Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA): Under a CFA, you can engage the services of a solicitor to handle your data breach claim without having to pay for their work upfront. The solicitor agrees to take on the case on the condition that they will only receive payment if they successfully secure compensation for you.
- Success Fee: In the event of a successful claim, the solicitor is entitled to a success fee. The success fee is usually based on a pre-agreed percentage,legally capped at a maximum amount.
By entering into a No Win No Fee agreement under a CFA, you can pursue a data breach claim without the financial risk of paying solicitor’s fees upfront. Want to get started? Call an advisor. They can assess your claim and connect you with a solicitor who could take on your claim under such an agreement.
Further Guidance Related To Examples Of Personal Data Breaches
- Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – The ICO’s guide to the GDPR offers comprehensive information on the European Union’s data protection regulation.
- National Cyber Security Centre – Data Breach Guidance – The National Cyber Security Centre offers guidance on preventing and responding to data breaches.
- Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) – Data Breach Reporting – This page on the ICO website guides reporting a data breach, including the steps to be taken and the required information.
- How Much Compensation For Breaking The Data Protection Act? – Learn about compensation for data breaches here.
- What Questions Should I Ask A Data Breach Solicitor Before Hiring Them? – Guidance on choosing a solicitor.
- What Are The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Settling A Data Breach Claim? – Finally, pros and cons are discussed here.