Pharmacy receives ICO’s first GDPR fine

First ICO GDPR fine pharmacy

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A pharmacy in London has become the first organisation to receive a GDPR fine in the UK from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). The fine of £275,000 relates to security failings in the pharmacy’s data practices after the ICO was tipped off by the MRHA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) who were conducting their own investigations into unlicensed activities by the pharmacy.

The ICO’s fine (as set out in its penalty notice) reflects a number of mainly security related issues, but the highlights are as follows:

  • Patient record data was left outside in crates in a yard (within its premises) and therefore not kept securely (even though the pharmacy argued the yard was locked, even though flats above the pharmacy had access to the yard)
  • The records were water damaged suggesting that it was left outside for some time, plus as it was damaged, this constitutes a breach also
  • The pharmacy tried to blame its waste disposal supplier, but the ICO failed to find a contract that suggested the supplier was under contract and deemed the waste disposal company a processor and so responsibility lies with the controller (the pharmacy)
  • The pharmacy’s company policies were out of date and so they were not able to demonstrate general compliance across the business (as the accountability principle requires)
  • The pharmacy were unable to demonstrate they had adequate records of their processing activities (as required by the GDPR’s accountability principle)
  • Some of the data involved was dated from 2016 which brought into question data retention practices of the pharmacy
  • It was not possible to ascertain just how long the records had been stored in the pharmacy’s yard and so the infringements were treated to have occurred since May 2018 (i.e. since GDPR has been in place)

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