Only 1 more day to go before the GDPR becomes fully effective. Preparing your company for the application of this new regulation requires a correct understanding of its principles. Each week, we highlight one particular misconception regarding the interpretation of the GDPR.

Will administrative fines for violation of the GDPR increase compared to the fines imposed by current national regimes?

The maximum level of administrative fines will effectively increase compared to the fines imposed by current national regimes. The GDPR sets two categories of administrative fines.

Some violations, including violations concerning aspects such as privacy by design and privacy by default, records processing activities, security, personal data breach notifications, data protection impact assessments, the ​designation of a data protection officer etc., are subject to administrative fines up to EUR 10 million or up to 2% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year of the undertaking, whichever is higher.

Other violations, including violations concerning the basic principles for lawful processing, the conditions for valid consent, data subjects’ rights, transfers of data outside the EU, etc., are subject to administrative fines up to EUR 20 million or up to 4% of the total worldwide annual turnover of the preceding financial year of the undertaking.

Nevertheless, the GDPR puts forward as a key principle that each supervisory authority must ensure that the administrative fines in each case must be effective, proportionate, and dissuasive with respect to the violation. When deciding whether to impose an administrative fine and on the amount thereof, regard should be given to the specific circumstances of the violation, including the nature, gravity, and duration of the infringement, the intentional or negligent character, the degree of responsibility, any previous infringements, the financial benefits gained, etc.