Welcome to this guide on ‘What is the difference between a data breach and a data protection breach?’ Here, we cover the compensation claims that may arise from these incidents.
A data breach refers to any unauthorised access, disclosure, or loss of personal data, whereas a data protection breach occurs when an organisation fails to comply with data protection regulations, such as the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
In either case, affected individuals may be entitled to compensation for any damages suffered as a result of the breach, such as financial losses, emotional distress, or reputational damage. The compensation claim may cover costs such as loss of earnings, medical expenses, or any other expenses that resulted from the breach.
In this guide, we will delve deeper into the definition of both types of breaches, explore the different ways they could occur, and discuss the types of damages that an individual could claim.
Read on for more in-depth information on data breach claims and how to protect yourself from such incidents. Or, call our advisors to obtain free legal advice or start your claim.
What Is A Data Protection Breach?
A data protection breach refers to any incident where an organisation or individual fails to comply with data protection regulations, such as the UK General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is enshrined in law in the Data Protection Act 2018 in the UK. This could happen when an organisation mishandles personal data, fails to obtain the necessary consent from individuals, or breaches any other data protection obligations.
Examples of data protection breaches include losing a USB drive containing sensitive data, accidentally sending an email to the wrong recipient, or allowing unauthorised access to personal data. Such incidents can have severe consequences for individuals, including financial loss, reputational damage, and emotional distress.
If an individual has suffered harm as a result of a data protection breach, they may be entitled to compensation from the organisations responsible. It is important to note that not all data breaches result in harm or result in compensation, but organisations still have a duty to report them to the supervisory authority.
What Is The Difference Between A Data Breach and A Data Protection Breach?
A data breach and a data protection breach are related concepts, but they differ in terms of their definitions and causes.
A data breach refers to any unauthorised access, disclosure, or loss of personal data. This could happen due to various reasons, such as hacking, malware, phishing, or even human error. A data breach can result in the exposure of sensitive personal data, such as names, addresses, dates of birth, National Insurance numbers, financial information, and medical records.
On the other hand, a data protection breach occurs when an organisation fails to comply with data protection regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK. This could happen when an organisation mishandles personal data, fails to obtain the necessary consent from individuals, or breaches any other data protection obligations.
In other words, a data breach is an event that could result in a data protection breach if the organisation responsible for the data did not have appropriate measures in place to prevent the breach. While a data breach involves the unauthorised access, disclosure, or loss of personal data, a data protection breach involves the failure to comply with data protection regulations.
What Types Of Data Can Be Exposed?
A data breach could potentially expose various types of personal data, depending on the nature of the breach and the information held by the affected organisation. Some examples of personal data that may be exposed in a data breach include:
- Names and addresses – These are basic personal identifiers that are often collected by organisations for various purposes, such as customer records, billing information, or marketing.
- Dates of birth – These are often used for age verification, eligibility for services, or other purposes where age is a factor.
- Financial information – This includes credit card details, bank account information, and other financial records that could be used for fraud or identity theft.
- Medical records –These contain sensitive information about an individual’s health and could be used for various fraudulent activities or discrimination.
- Login credentials – This includes usernames, passwords, and other authentication details that could be used to access personal accounts or other systems.
- Other sensitive information – This could include information about an individual’s race, religion, sexual orientation, political beliefs, and other personal characteristics that could be used for discrimination or other harmful purposes.
It is important to note that any personal data could be potentially harmful if it falls into the wrong hands. Therefore, organisations have a duty to protect personal data and take appropriate measures to prevent data breaches.
What Harm Can Be Caused By A Wrongful Exposure Of Personal Data
A data breach can have a range of harmful effects on individuals, depending on the nature of the breach and the personal data that was compromised. Some examples of harm that could arise from a data breach include:
- Financial harm – If financial information, such as credit card details or bank account information, is exposed in a data breach, it could lead to financial fraud or identity theft.
- Reputational harm – If sensitive personal data, such as medical records or private correspondence, is exposed in a data breach, it could lead to embarrassment or reputational damage.
- Emotional harm – If personal data is exposed in a data breach, it could cause emotional distress, anxiety, or other psychological harm.
- Discrimination: If sensitive personal data, such as information about race, religion, or sexual orientation, is exposed in a data breach, it could lead to discrimination or harassment.
What’s The Difference In Material and Non-Material Damages For A Data Protection Breach Claim?
If an individual has suffered harm as a result of a data breach, they may be entitled to compensation from the organisation responsible. In the UK, individuals can claim compensation for both material and non-material damages resulting from a data breach.
Material damages may include any financial losses that the individual has suffered as a result of the breach, such as losses due to identity theft or fraud. Non-material damages may include emotional distress, anxiety, and other psychological harm.
The amount of compensation that an individual can claim will depend on the nature and severity of the harm suffered. In some cases, individuals may be able to claim compensation for both material and non-material damages, as well as any legal costs incurred in pursuing their claim.
Courts and lawyers could use the Judicial College Guidelines to get an idea of how much compensation could be appropriate for non-material damages. We’ve provided some insight into these guidelines below. However, it’s important to recognise that the compensation you could receive would depend on the specifics of your case.
- Less severe psychological injuries – £1,540 to £5,860
- Severe psychological injuries – £54,830 to £115,730
- Moderately severe psychological injuries – £19,070 to £54,830
- Moderate psychological injuries – £5,860 to £19,070
You can call an advisor for a more accurate representation of how much your claim could be worth.
Making A Data Breach And A Data Protection Breach Claim Under No Win No Fee Terms
To be eligible for a claim, the individual must have suffered harm as a result of the data breach, which must have been caused by the wrongful actions of the data controller. The harm may be financial, such as losses due to identity theft or fraud, or non-financial, such as emotional distress or reputational damage.
Solicitors may offer a No Win No Fee agreement, also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA), for data breach claims. This means that the solicitor will not charge for their work unless the claim is successful.
In the UK, there is a law that restricts the amount of success fees that solicitors can charge in No Win No Fee agreements. The success fee is a percentage of the compensation awarded to the individual and is designed to cover the solicitor’s costs. The success fee is capped at 25% of the compensation awarded.
If you have been the victim of a data breach and believe you may be eligible for compensation, contact a our advisors. They can provide you with the advice and support you need to pursue your claim and may offer to connect you with a solicitor that works under No Win No Fee agreement to help you pursue your case without any upfront costs.
Further Insight Into ‘What Is The Difference Between A Data Breach And A Data Protection Breach?’
Now we’ve explained what is the difference between a data breach and a data protection breach, we provide some further guidance on making such claims.
What To Know About Government Data Breach Claims – Learn about claiming against government agencies.
Claiming Data Breach Compensation For Data Breaches In Hotels – Learn about claiming data breach compensation for a hotel data breach.
Can I Make A Data Breach Claim In The UK? – Learn whether you could claim.
Action Fraud – The UK’s national reporting center for fraud and cybercrime:
UK Finance – A trade association for the UK banking and financial services sector, with information on fraud prevention and data security.
The ICO – Make a complaint about the use of your data.