At Keller Postman UK, our expert data breach lawyers are committed to making sure that people who have had their personal data stolen (or otherwise put at risk) understand their data protection rights. We believe this is essential if we are going to hold organisations to account for their data privacy failures. And, in our experience, one thing that is often misunderstood, is your right to claim data breach compensation for distress following a data breach.
So, what exactly is the situation here in the UK?
Distress after a data breach. Know your rights
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) places strict obligations on businesses to keep our data safe. And if you have suffered damage or distress caused by an organisation breaching any part of the Data Protection Act (the UK’s interpretation of the GDPR), you have a right to claim compensation.
But did you know that you can also claim for distress as well as financial losses?
In the UK, you can make a compensation claim if you have struggled psychologically after a data breach, even if you have not lost out financially.
In fact, while each case is judged on its own merits, when claiming compensation for a data breach, the court will consider:
With stolen data, cybercriminals can make purchases using your bank and credit cards, apply for credit in your name, set up fraudulent bank accounts and access your existing online accounts.
Loss of privacy
When awarding compensation, the court will also look at the precise circumstances of your case. This includes things like the sensitivity of the data compromised, and the nature of the breach. However, in order to be entitled to compensation for GDPR distress, you must show that you have suffered emotionally as a direct result of the breach. In other words, you must be able to link your distress to the data breach.
The emotional impact of a data breach
We all know the impact that theft can have on a person. So, why should you feel any less upset at having your online data taken; particularly if an organisation has effectively given the burglar the keys?
Some people might believe that claiming compensation for distress is an overreaction. But according to Victim Support:
“The effects of crime can also last for a long time, and it doesn’t depend on how ‘serious’ the crime was. Some people cope really well with the most horrific crimes while others can be very distressed by a more minor incident”.
So, it’s no wonder that a data breach can cause or exacerbate anxiety, stress and other psychological conditions. Especially as today, we all share a wealth of sensitive, private and personally identifiable information with organisations online.
Why wouldn’t we worry about what could happen if our data got into the wrong hands?
The bottom line is that the law understands the damage that can be caused by worry and upset. So, if you have been the victim of a data breach, but haven’t lost any money, you still have the right to make a compensation claim.
CLAIMING COMPENSATION FOR DISTRESS FOLLOWING A DATA BREACH
At Keller Postman UK, we are committed to helping those affected by data breaches and cybercrime. And, we believe that something has to be done to make organisations accountable for not looking after our information correctly. What’s more, claiming compensation isn’t just in your best interests; it could be the only way to ensure that businesses everywhere implement more secure processes.
FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOUR DATA PROTECTION RIGHTS
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s data protection regulator. It exists to protect your information rights and data privacy. It also helps organisations to meet their obligations under the Data Protection Act (the UK’s interpretation of the GDPR).