The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a regulation in the European Union, regulates data privacy and protection. It was adopted in May 2018 and has since evolved into a fundamental component of data protection regulations all across the world. To avoid exorbitant fines and penalties, businesses and organizations handling the personal data of EU citizens must adhere to the GDPR. But despite the stringent laws in place, GDPR infractions are nonetheless frequent. This post will look at some of the most typical violations and how businesses can prevent them.

Any action or inaction by a business or organization that disobeys the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) constitutes a GDPR violation. Any entity that gathers or processes personal data without the consent of EU residents is subject to the GDPR, a rule in the EU that regulates data privacy and protection.

If it is determined that a company has breached the GDPR, they could face harsh fines and penalties that could reach up to 4% of their annual global revenue or €20 million, whichever is higher.

What are GDPR fines?

Organizations and businesses that violate the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) may be subject to fines under the GDPR. The penalties, which have the potential to be enormous, are meant to dissuade non-compliance. The degree of seriousness of the infraction, as well as the organization’s size and revenue, are used to calculate the fine amount.

Lower-tier fines: two percent of the company’s annual global revenue or up to €10 million, whichever is greater. Less serious infractions, like failing to keep proper records or skipping a data protection impact assessment (DPIA), are subject to these sanctions.

Upper-tier fines: These are very hefty, up to 4% of the company’s annual global revenue or €20 million. These penalties are enforced for more serious infractions, including improper consent not being obtained, data breaches, or processing personal data against GDPR principles.

It’s vital to remember that the kind and extent of fines and penalties levied depend on how serious the infraction was. For instance, it is a serious infraction and can result in heavy fines if a data breach is not reported within 72 hours. Companies that violate the GDPR run the risk of not only paying fines but also losing customers, sustaining damage to their reputations, and facing legal action from those who suffered harm as a result of the violation. To avoid fines and other penalties, it is crucial for businesses and organizations handling personal data of EU citizens to strictly adhere to requirements.

Types of fines in gdpr

There are two types of fines for non-compliance with GDPR:

Administrative fines: These are the penalties that regulatory bodies levy when the GDPR is broken. The severity of the infraction, the organization’s size and revenue, as well as other pertinent considerations, all influence how much the fine will be. For the most serious infractions, administrative fines can reach a maximum of €20 million or 4% of the company’s annual global revenue, whichever is greater.

Compensation claims: Those who have suffered harm as a result of a GDPR violation may also make compensation claims against the at-fault company. Claims for monetary loss, emotional suffering, or any injury resulting from the infringement may fall under this category. The extent of the harm caused determines the amount of compensation given.

To avoid fines and other penalties, it’s critical for businesses and organizations handling the personal data of EU citizens to comply with GDPR requirements. GDPR law violations can result in severe monetary losses and reputational harm.

How does the GDPR define a violation?

Any act or omission that fails to conform to the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) provisions is seen as a violation. This can encompass a variety of behaviors or inactions, such as:

  • Processing personal data without getting the right consent: The GDPR requires companies to get people’s explicit, informed consent before collecting and using their personal information. A violation may occur if the required consent is not obtained.
  • Failure to keep accurate records: Organizations are required to keep accurate records of the activities involved in processing personal data. A violation would occur if this were to occur. 
  • Failure to notify individuals of a data breach: Organizations are required to alert people right away if their personal information has been compromised. Failure to do so is seen as a violation.
  • Failure to designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO): DPOs are required for organizations that handle sensitive or substantial amounts of personal data. A violation would occur if this were to occur.
  • Failure to perform a data protection impact assessment (DPIA): Organizations are required to perform a DPIA in order to evaluate and reduce the risks involved with processing personal data. It may be illegal to conduct a DPIA without permission.
  • Processing personal data against GDPR principles: Organizations are required to abide by the GDPR’s guiding principles, which include processing personal data in a fair, transparent, and lawful manner. A violation would occur if this were to occur.
  • Ignoring a data subject access request (DSAR): People have the right to ask organizations for access to the personal information they hold about them. A violation may be committed if a DSAR is not responded to.
  • Not taking the proper organizational and technical security precautions: Organizations are required to take the proper organizational and technical precautions to protect the security of personal data. A violation would occur if this were to occur.

How can organizations avoid these penalties and stay compliant with GDPR?

Penalties of GDPR

1. Conducting data mapping: Data mapping is a technique for compiling all of your customers’ personal information into one location, giving you a complete picture of what your data is, where it’s being utilized, and how it connects to other parts of your company.

Data mapping should be regarded as a best practice even in the absence of the prospect of a GDPR fee because it increases visibility and ensures the use of accurate data.

2. Do routine audits: To find any potential areas of GDPR non-compliance, do routine audits of your organization’s data protection practices. Take corrective action to deal with any issues found.

3. Implement a data protection policy: Create and put into effect a thorough data protection policy outlining your company’s strategy for GDPR compliance. Make sure that every employee has access to the policy and frequent GDPR compliance training.

4. Establish explicit protocols. Establishing a clear procedure for managing personal data, such as how to get and record consent, how to respond to DSARs, and how to disclose data breaches, establishes data protection measures. Make sure that everyone in your organization adheres to these procedures.

5. Implementing appropriate technical and organizational measures: Implement the necessary technical and organizational safeguards, such as data backups, access controls, and encryption, to safeguard personal information. To guarantee continuous efficacy, review and update these measures frequently.

Companies that paid hefty fines for violating GDPR rules

Here are a few of the many companies that paid hulking fines for violating GDPR:

  • Google ($57 million): The French Data Protection Authority (CNIL) imposed a $55 million fine on Google in January 2019 for GDPR infractions. The penalty was imposed for the tailored advertising, lack of transparency, and insufficient consent mechanisms.
  • H&M ($41.3 million): The German Data Protection Authority penalized H&M $38.1 million in October 2020 for unauthorized employee data collection and storage. The penalty was imposed when it was found that H&M had amassed excessive amounts of personal data about its workers, including details about their family situations and religious convictions.
  • Marriott International ($23 million): Marriott International was assessed a $32.9 million punishment by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in July 2019 for failing to safeguard the personal information of millions of customers. After a data breach exposed the personal information of about 339 million visitors, penalties were imposed.
  • British Airways ($26 million): The UK ICO fined British Airways $24.3 million in October 2020 for failing to protect its customers’ personal data. A data breach that exposed the personal information of about 500,000 consumers led to the issuance of the penalties.
  • Amazon ($887 million): In December 2020, the Luxembourg National Commission for Data Protection fined Amazon $887 million for breaking GDPR laws pertaining to targeted advertising strategies. The penalty was imposed because personal data was processed without legal consent.

Violating the GDPR can result in hefty fines and harm to a company’s reputation. Common transgressions include improper permission, shoddy data protection procedures, the failure to designate a Data Protection Officer (DPO), and unauthorized data transfers. Companies and organizations must take the necessary precautions to prevent these violations, including regular data protection audits, the implementation of thorough data protection policies, the development of data protection procedures, and the monitoring and review of data processing activities.

Get GDPR Compliant with CertPro

CertPro is a prominent auditing and management consulting firm that provides bespoke services to businesses globally, such as ISO 27001 and ISO 9001 certification. With a team of highly skilled auditors and consultants, CertPro extends extensive assistance throughout the certification process, ensuring adherence to international standards for information security and quality management. CertPro’s approach is to meet the specific demands and prerequisites of each client, including pre-assessment, gap analysis, documentation review, and training. By collaborating with CertPro, businesses can capitalize on their proficiency and acquire certification confidently, receiving top-notch services that are cost-efficient, effective, and customized to their preferences. CertPro is dedicated to helping businesses elevate their operations, augment their competitiveness, and accomplish their strategic objectives by certifying ISO 27001 and ISO 9001.


How can CertPro help with GDPR compliance?

A prominent provider of GDPR compliance solutions, CertPro provides a variety of services to assist businesses in adhering to the new rules. By collaborating with CertPro, you can make sure that your business is complying with GDPR requirements and taking all required precautions to protect customer data. GDPR guidelines and safeguard the personal data of its clients.

What are the main rules of GDPR?

Anyone using personal data must abide by a strict set of rules known as “data protection principles. They must ensure that the information is used in an open, honest, and legal manner. employed for specific, stated objectives.

What is a Data Subject Access Request (DSAR)?

A data subject’s right to view, correct, or have their personal information deleted is known as a “data subject access request,” or DSAR. For enterprises to respond to DSARs in a timely and legal manner, it’s critical that they have policies in place.

Does GDPR apply to everyone?

Regardless of where the data is processed, every company or organization that manages personal information as part of operating one of its branches in the EU is subject to the GDPR.

Who is in charge of applying the GDPR?

The responsibility of enforcing the GDPR lies with the data protection authorities (DPAs) of each of the 27 EU member states, who are in charge of data protection. The DPAs are independent and unaffected by the government. Their duties include investigating complaints, offering guidance on data privacy matters, and identifying cases of GDPR non-compliance.


About the Author


Shreyas Shastha Drupadha, a Senior Business Consultant. Serving as an ISO 27001 Lead Auditor, Shreyas ensures the establishment of robust information security management systems. His expertise also encompasses GDPR, HIPAA, CCPA, and PIPEDA implementation.



The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is vital for today's digital landscape. It is a cornerstone for safeguarding people's privacy rights in the European Union (EU). Therefore, organizations dealing with EU residents' data must follow these GDPR rules....

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