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A guide to data protection compensation awards

The prospect of losing control of your personal data can be frightening and this anxiety only continues to grow as we share more and more of our information with a wider range of companies and organisations. Thankfully, the increased risks we face have been recognised. In recent years, stronger legislation has been put in place to ensure our data is protected and, as a result, the number of data protection compensation awards has increased.

In this post, we’ll discuss the potential impacts a data breach can have. As you will see, some of these can be quite severe. On this basis, we’ll then talk you through the kinds of data protection compensation awards you could expect. Finally, we’ll explain the process of claiming.

If you have suffered as the result of a data breach, read on to find out what compensation you might be entitled to, and how we can help you.

Data protection regulations

In 2018, the EU-wide General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was launched. A post-Brexit UK variant was introduced in January 2021.

The GDPR, as well as the accompany Data Protection Act 2018, are landmark achievements in data protection. They set out a number of principles that any organisation handling or processing personal information must follow. They also codified a number of rights you have over your own data.

In sum, GDPR and related legislation has strengthened your control over your own data. As the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) puts it, “your data is your data. It belongs to you.” This means that you should be able to choose how it is used, and by whom.

This is particularly important given the increasing role that the digital world plays in our lives. Digital technologies allow us to exchange and store more data than ever before. However, the result of this is more and more of our personal data being at risk. Our data can now be much more easily exposed to those we would never intend to share it with.

Unfortunately, the consequences of this can be extreme.

The consequences of a data breach

Having your personal data exposed through a data protection breach is understandably a worrying prospect. For some kinds of information, the risks are obvious. When it comes to our bank account details, for instance, or our medical records, the idea of these things being available to strangers is extremely troubling.

Even relatively innocuous information can lead to damaging consequences in the wrong hands. Using simple data such as your name and phone number, for instance, cybercriminals can conduct sophisticated “phishing” attacks to try and gather even more data.

The range of negative consequences you could face from a data breach include:

  • Financial losses
  • Identity theft
  • Emotional distress
  • Reputational damage
  • Loss of employment opportunities

Even the very prospect of some of these outcomes can take its toll on your mental health. A data breach inevitably results in a feeling of loss of control. In a certain sense, your data is no longer yours. You cannot decide who does and does not have access to it.

The GDPR is designed to recognise this range of impacts. It does so by placing stringent demands on what organisations must do to protect your data. If your data has been exposed through a data breach, that is a failure to meet these demands, and you have a right to seek redress. This includes claiming compensation.

Data protection compensation awards

As we’ve discussed, a data breach can have a range of negative consequences. Not all of these will result in financial losses. Nevertheless, it is increasingly acknowledged that emotional distress and loss of control can have a major impact on the lives of those affected. Indeed, they can lead to financial losses indirectly, through rendering you unable to work, for instance.

As a result, data protection compensation awards have increasingly acknowledged the mental and emotional suffering of those affected. This is particularly so since the arrival of the GDPR. Indeed, even the simple inconvenience of a data breach is increasingly acknowledged in compensation claims.

In terms of the actual amount you could expect to receive, this depends on various factors. These include the nature of the data involved, how many people may have had access to it (for instance, if it was publicly available or not), and the consequences it had for you.

If the information was particularly sensitive, the compensation involved could be substantial. For instance, HNK recently secured compensation of £7500 for a client who had their financial information and details of their personal relationships exposed.

HNK can help with your data protection claims

If you have been the victim of a data breach, it’s important that you consider all possible means to help you move past the incident. This includes claiming compensation. As we’ve shown, compensation awards do not rely on you suffering direct financial consequences – though these, of course, can affect the amount you could receive. There is a growing recognition that the emotional impact of losing control of your data can be significant, and this is reflected in data protection compensation awards.

If you are considering seeking compensation, it is important that you take advice from an experienced solicitor. They will be able to help you understand how much you might be able to claim, as well as making the claims process simple and straightforward for you.

Here at HNK, our expert team of data breach solicitors offer free consultations to discuss the specifics of your case. We can provide tailored advice based on a detailed understanding of the regulations involved. If we do think you have a valid compensation claim, we can take it up on your behalf on a no-win, no-fee basis.

So, if you have suffered as the result of a data breach, even simply from the loss of control and inconvenience involved, get in touch with HNK today. Simply fill out the form on our website to request a call back. Alternatively, call us on 0151 203 1104 or email us at enquiries@hnksolicitors.com.

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