Many businesses and charities use direct marketing to grow their business or publicise their aims but they must ensure that their practices comply with the law. The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO’s) draft code on Direct marketing is intended to ensure that organisations meet their obligations. The ICO is consulting on its content. The consultation is open until 4 March 2020 and you can submit your views here.

The Information Commissioner’s office (ICO) will contact all registered companies in the UK reminding them of their legal responsibility to pay a data protection fee. The move marks the start of an extensive programme to make sure the Data Protection Fee is paid by all those who need to pay it.

Organisations processing personal information are required to pay a data protection fee unless they are exempt. You can find out if your organisation needs to pay the fee by using the ICO’s self-assessment checker, but the ICO advises that if you hold personal information for business purposes on any electronic device, including using CCTV for crime prevention purposes, it is likely an annual fee payment is due.

The fee can be paid by through the ICO website online.

If your organisation is exempt you are required to complete this form to tell the ICO why your organisation is exempt from paying the fee.

Since the new annual data protection fee was introduced in May 2018, over 600,000 organisations have registered to pay it. At the same time, between 1 July and 30 September 2019, the ICO issued 340 monetary penalties to organisations that have not paid the Data Protection Fee. Compliance & Regulation cover for ARAG Commercial legal protection policyholders requires the fee to have been paid.

The ICCO admits that data protection legislation can be complicated but it provides access to help and support. This includes:

  • a Helpline and Live Chat service dedicated to supporting small businesses and organisations;
  • a series of self-assessment tools and products on the website;
  • advisory visits and support designed to help small businesses and organisations to comply with the law.

The cost of the data protection fee depends on a company’s size and turnover. There are three tiers of fee ranging from £40 and £2,900, but for most organisations it will be £40 or £60. The cost is reduced by £5 if you sign up by direct debit and you can find out how much you need to pay by taking a self-assessment.

For further help and advice, call the ICO’s small business helpline on 0303 123 1113 between 9am - 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding Bank Holidays).

ARAG’s Business Legal Advice helpline also provides legal advice about data protection matters.

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Disclaimer - all information in this article was correct at time of publishing.

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