“I have recently received a number of letters from the ‘Information Commissioner/ICO’ telling me I need to pay a ’Data Protection Fee’. I have never heard of them before. Is this a scam?”

We cannot say whether the letter you have received is or is not real. If you are at all concerned, we would strongly advise caution. That said, the Information Commissioner or ICO is a legitimate organisation, and it is likely that a fee is due.

Who are the ICO?

The ICO is the UK’s independent body responsible for upholding information rights and data protection. Their main responsibility is the Data Protection Act 2018, but they are also responsible for the Freedom of Information Act 2000, the Network and Information Systems Regulations 2018, the Electronic Identification and Trust Services Regulations, and Investigatory Powers Act 2016.

They have become more well known in the last few years as a result of the GDPR and the overhaul of data protection legislation in the UK.

Do I have to pay a fee, and if so, why?

The ICO is funded, at least in part, by a levy placed on data processors. Under the Data Protection Act 2018, organisations processing personal data must pay a data protection fee, unless they are exempt. As personal data includes people’s names, addresses or telephone numbers, where you hold customer data for billing purposes etc… it is likely that you will be required to pay a fee.

The ICO have provided a handy tool on their website in order to help businesses asses whether they are required to register with the ICO as a data processor and if so whether they are liable to pay a fee. This can be found at

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-fee/self-assessment/

Conclusion

In conclusion it is highly likely that this is a genuine letter and that you are required to be both registered and that you are liable for a fee. In fact it’s likely that you have bene for some time. Whether you have received a letter or not, we would advise all members to go to the ICO website address above and take 45 minutes to go through the assessment. If you are required to register and pa y a fee you will then be referred to the appropriate next steps.

However, this advice is general in nature. As an RMI member you have access to the RMI Legal advice line, as well as a number of industry experts for your assistance. Should you find yourself in the situation above, contact us at any stage for advice and assistance as appropriate.

Motor Industry Legal Services

Motor Industry Legal Services (MILS Solicitors) provides fully comprehensive legal advice and representation to UK motor retailers for one annual fee. It is the only law firm in the UK which specialises in motor law and motor trade law. MILS currently advises over 1,000 individual businesses within the sector as well as the Retail Motor Industry Federation (RMI) and its members.