Thousands of small-business owners and landlords say they are confused by Information Commissioners Office (ICO) letters demanding a fee to ensure the protection of their customers’ and tenants’ personal information.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals. ICO is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. The organisation covers the following:
- Data Protection Act
- Freedom of Information Act
- Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR)
- Environmental Information Regulations
- INSPIRE Regulations
- The re-use of Public Sector Information Regulations
Data protection fee
Recently, the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has launched a campaign to remind small companies and SME’s of their legal responsibility to pay a data protection fee. For most small companies the charge is £40 or £60 a year. The move marks the start of an extensive programme to make sure the Data Protection Fee is paid by all those who need to pay it, unless they are exempt.
They apply to companies that store personal information which can be used to identify someone which is stored electronically such as a computer, camera or smartphone such as clients’ names addresses and telephone numbers for work purposes. It is likely you’ll need to pay and there is a fine up to £4,000 for not registering.
If you have received a letter from the ICO, it is a useful reminder that you need to either pay your fee or let the ICO know you are exempt, so they can update their records. Alternatively, you can quickly and easily find out if your organisation needs to pay the fee by using ico.org.uk/fee-checker, unless your business is exempt fill out the form at https://ico.org.uk/no-fee
For companies unsure if they are exempt, there is a helpline number: 0303 123 1113.
The charge will also apply to a wide range of landlords, institutions, including schools and solicitors, but not the police or anyone who stores information for judicial reasons.
It is likely an annual fee payment is due for businesses holding personal information, for business purposes on any electronic device, including using CCTV for crime prevention purposes.
Be aware of scams
The ICO is warning companies to be aware of scams relating to payment of the data protection fee. Businesses that receive a letter, text message, email or telephone call from ICO representatives and want to check that it’s genuine please search ‘ICO fee’ using your usual search engine. Follow the top results to website links which begin with https://ico.org.uk, and this will bring you to the official website.
Stay up to date with resources on GDPR and compliance for small businesses by visiting ico.org.uk/hub for more information.
We can help you with all aspects of business compliance. Please contact us for further advice and assistance.
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