Two-thirds of UK workers ‘risking GDPR penalties’

A new survey has found that 64% of UK workers have violated the EU’s General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), potentially incurring large fines for their employer

A survey of 1,002 UK workers in full or part-time employment, carried out by technology services firm Probrand, has revealed that a majority of people admitted to having forwarded a customer email to their personal email account in the four months following the introduction of GDPR last May.

Earlier research from the company found that more than half (55%) of all UK-based businesses were breaching GDPR laws by not having an official process or protocol for disposing of obsolete IT equipment.

According to the data, 84% of the workers who admitted to forwarding customer emails to their personal accounts didn’t feel they were doing anything wrong (as there was no malicious intent behind their actions) despite the fact that this notion of innocence would likely be deemed irrelevant if it came to a legal judgement over whether there had been a breach of GDPR laws.

Probrand marketing director Matt Royle said: “What may seem like an innocent and even helpful action of workers trying to catch up on work out of hours is actually a clear breach of GDPR laws. This is because the worker in question will have unwittingly forwarded sensitive personal customer information and/or their own employer’s intellectual property to a third party outside of the corporate network.

“Of course, in the vast majority of cases this will have been done with the best intentions, with the employee simply planning to pick up their work at home – but given the amount of publicity around GDPR it is perhaps surprising that more workers (and employers) are not aware of the basics of what is required for GDPR compliance.

Royle added: “It is clear from these findings that businesses need to do more to educate their employees on the laws surrounding GDPR and data protection. Seemingly innocent actions could have substantial repercussions. A GDPR breach can result in fines that potentially run into the millions – this financial impact along with the knock-on effects this can have for businesses, including reputational damage, the loss of customer loyalty and trust, can be hugely damaging for companies in the long term.”

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