Fri | Nov 27, 2020

British Airways faces $229 million fine over data breach

Published:Monday | July 8, 2019 | 11:25 AM
In this file photo dated Tuesday, January 10, 2017, British Airways planes are parked at Heathrow Airport in London. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein, FILE)

LONDON (AP) — British Airways is facing a 183 million-pound ($229 million) fine over a breach that compromised information on half a million customers — the biggest penalty to date under new, tougher regulations and one that is likely to be seen as a test case for companies that fail to secure big data caches.

Britain’s Information Commissioner proposed the fine on Monday, months after BA revealed it had been the victim of a hack.

The scam saw customers diverted to a fake website where credit card details were harvested by the attackers.

“People’s personal data is just that - personal. When an organisation fails to protect it from loss, damage or theft it is more than an inconvenience,” Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.

“That’s why the law is clear - when you are entrusted with personal data you must look after it.”

The regulator said that the proposed fine — equivalent to 1.5% of the airline’s annual revenue — is the biggest it has ever imposed.

It comes about a year after European Union member states began implementing the most sweeping change in data protection rules in a generation.

The General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR for short, is designed to make it easier for EU residents to give and withdraw permission for companies to use personal information — but also forces companies that hold data to be accountable for looking after it.

Authorities can fine companies up to 4% of annual revenue or 20 million euros ($22.5 million), whichever is higher, for breaching the rules.

The Information Commissioner’s Office says its investigation of BA found that “poor security arrangements” compromised login, payment card, and travel booking details as well as name and address information.

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