The Information Commissioner’s Office will launch a dedicated telephone service aimed at helping small businesses prepare for new data protection laws.

The phone service will add to a package of tools and resources already available for organisations getting ready for the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which comes into effect on 25 May 2018. This new law enhances rights and obligations from the current Data Protection Act.

The new service will go live on 1 November 2017 and will be based around the ICO’s existing public helpline, which handled around 190,000 calls last year.

The ICO has also announced plans to simplify its popular “12 steps to take now” graphic in response to calls from small and micro businesses that they need access to targeted information about how to prepare for the GDPR.

And the ICO is revising its simple-to-use SME toolkit – a resource used by around 9,000 businesses a month since January 2016 – into a GDPR checklist that will allow businesses themselves to identify gaps in their own preparation for the new law.

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said:

“There are 5.4 million businesses in the UK that employ fewer than 250 people. When it comes to data protection, surveys show they tend to be less well prepared. We know that most businesses want to get things right but often struggle to find the key steps to get started. They also have less time and money to invest in getting it right. They may not have compliance teams or data protection officers or access to legal advice.

“The businesses may be small but they still hold important personal information and the need to gain the trust of their customers is just as real.”

Organisations that have yet to begin preparing for the GDPR can access a range of resources on the ICO’s dedicated data protection reform web pages.

The “12 steps to take now” graphic has been viewed 73,000 times since it was updated in May and is the most downloaded document on the ICO website.

In March the ICO’s annual conference for data practitioners took GDPR as its theme. Some 800 delegates attended, and five times as many viewed the livestream.

ICO staff have spoken at nearly 100 stakeholder events where “getting ready for the GDPR” has been a key theme and around 10,000 people have viewed sector-specific webinars highlighting GDPR issues.

By the end of the year, the ICO will publish a Guide to GDPR. It expands the content of the current overview to make it a comprehensive guide along the same lines as the current Guide to Data Protection.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  3. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  4. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a new law which will apply in the UK from 25 May 2018. The Government has confirmed the UK’s decision to leave the EU will not affect the commencement of the GDPR. The Government is introducing measures related to this and wider data protection reforms in a Data Protection Bill.
  5. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
    • fairly and lawfully processed;
    • processed for limited purposes;
    • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
    • accurate and up to date;
    • not kept for longer than is necessary;
    • processed in line with your rights;
    • secure; and
    • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  6. Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  7. Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
  8. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns.