Over 59,000 data breaches reported to GDPR regulators

Over 59,000 data-breach notifications have been reported across the European Economic Area by public and private organizations since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into force on May 25, 2018, according to the DLA Piper’s GDPR Data Breach survey.

The Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom topped the table in the report with approximately 15,400, 12,600 and 10,600 reported breaches, respectively. The lowest numbers of reported breaches were made in Liechtenstein, Iceland and Cyprus with 15, 25 and 35 reported breaches, respectively.

The Netherlands, with 89.8 reported breaches per 100,000 people, topped the list when the number of notifications were weighted against country populations, followed by Ireland and Denmark. Of the 26 European countries where breach notification data is available, the UK, Germany and France ranked 10th, 11th and 21st, respectively, on a reported fine per-capita basis. Greece, Italy and Romania reported the fewest number of breaches per capita.

According to Ross McKean, a partner at DLA Piper specializing in cyber and data protection: “The GDPR completely changes the compliance risk for organizations, which suffer a personal data breach due to revenue-based fines and the potential for US style group litigation claims for compensation. As we saw in the US when mandatory breach notification laws came into force, backed up by tough sanctions for not notifying, the GDPR is driving personal data breaches out into the open. Our report confirms this with more than 59,000 data breaches notified across Europe in the first eight months since the GDPR came into force.”

To date, 91 fines have been reported. Not all of these relate to personal data breaches and several relate to other infringements of GDPR. The highest GDPR fine imposed to date is €50 million, which was made against Google on January 21, 2019. This was a French decision in relation to the processing of personal data for advertising purposes without valid authorization, rather than a personal data breach.

Also commenting on the report, Sam Millar, a partner at DLA Piper specializing in cyber and large-scale investigations; said: “The regulators have already started to flex their muscles with 91 GDPR fines imposed to date, but the fine against Google is a landmark moment and is notable partly because it is not related to personal data breaches. We anticipate that regulators will treat data breaches more harshly by imposing higher fines given the more acute risk of harm to individuals. We can expect more fines to follow over the coming year as the regulators clear the backlog of notifications.”

And the big question is: What happened in the Philippines? How many data breach notifications have been sent to the National Privacy Commission since early 2018? I do not believe that there were less data breaches on a pro-rata basis in the Philippines. If we divide 59,000 breach notifications in 26 European countries, the Philippines should have at least 2,270 notifications. We have seen a number of major breaches in the Philippines  (Commission on Elections, Wendy’s, Jollibee, BPI, Cebuana Lhuillier,  ABS-CBN, Globe, Department of Foreign Affairs, COL Financial Group, Marriott, Cathay Pacific) to name a few only, but data on the total number of breach reports are not publicly available.

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