In our last few blogs we have looked at the principles of GDPR, rights conferred on employees, creating a data register and considering change to current working practice and the lawful basis for keeping data. All this is about protecting personal data and reducing the likelihood of there being a breach.

But what do you need to do if there is a breach?

The GDPR introduces a duty on all organisations to report certain types of personal data breach to the relevant supervisory authority (the Information Commissioners Office – ICO). You must do this within 72 hours of becoming aware of the breach, where feasible. If the breach is likely to result in a high risk of adversely affecting individuals’ rights and freedoms, you must also inform those individuals without undue delay. You must also keep a record of any personal data breaches, regardless of whether you are required to notify.

Examples of breaches are:

  • Data is accessed by an unauthorised third party
  • Deliberate or accidental action (or inaction) by a controller or processor
  • Sending personal data to an incorrect recipient
  • Computing devices containing personal data being lost or stolen
  • Alteration of personal data without permission
  • Loss of availability of personal data

When a personal data breach has occurred, you need to establish the likelihood and severity of the resulting risk to people’s rights and freedoms. If it’s likely that there will be a risk then you must notify the ICO; if it’s unlikely then you don’t have to report it. However, if you decide you don’t need to report the breach, you need to be able to justify this decision, so you should document it.

So if you lose your lap-top that has employees personal data on it, you may not need to report this if the computer has adequate encryption software – because the likelihood of someone accessing the data is extremely slim because of the encryption and therefore it is unlikely that there will be a breach of personal data (you may need to talk to your IT department about these things).

You should keep a data register of all breaches. This can also be used to record your reasoning/justification if you do not report it.

If we can be of assistance please do not hesitate to contact us on 01702 216573 or email me at

Useful links

The information commissioner – Telephone number: 0303 123 1113

GDPR (Regulation 2016/679/EU)