It is easy to feel that you are just a needle in the haystack comprised of millions of internet users, just one of many database marketers out there, relatively anonymous and unlikely to be noticed or pulled up for DPA non-compliance.
It is probably for this reason the maximum fine for non-compliance (under the “persistent abuse of telecoms system” provisions of Communications Act 2003) is a whopping £50,000. Breach of DPA could leave you or your company liable to pay unlimited damages awards in the civil courts. If you are an individual unlucky enough to be singled out, you could also risk 10 years maximum imprisonment or a £5,000 fine under the Computer Misuse Act. The Data Protection Act also allows for a £5,000 maximum fine per record…beware!
Despite these particularly nasty deterrents to DPA non-compliance, most people will probably disregard the penalties for breaking data protection regulations. This is due mainly to the infrequency of convictions - to date, only a very limited number of cases have made it through to UK courts.
However it is important to remember that although there have been very few cases so far, it will not remain this way for long - the UK is currently the only European country which has not yet experienced a significant case of DPA non-compliance, BUT it is very unlikely to remain this way. How can we be sure of this? There have been six-figure fines given in other EU states – and within the EU it is the law of the country that receives the email which applies and not the law of the country which sent it.
Other than imprisonment and financial penalties, there are many other reasons to be DPA compliant:
DPA compliance helps you avoid:
• Complaint upheld findings by ASA, the Advertising Standards Authority
• Breach of contract claims/penalties
• Diversion of time regulatory firefighting and legal costs
• Negative PR
DPA Compliance helps you to:
• Keep your clients, customers and prospects happy
• Ensure the quality and value of your data, as it is collected, is not comprised
• Make your business more saleable