The Information Commissioner’s Office has announced its second "notice of intent" in as many days after revealing it plans to fine Marriott International more than £99 million for breaching GDPR, after it exposed the personal details of more 30 million EU customers - seven million who live in the UK - following a mass hack attack.
The move follows yesterday’s announcement that British Airways is facing a £139 million penalty for a hack on its website.
The proposed Marriott fine relates to a cyber incident which was notified to the ICO by the company in November 2018. A raft of personal data contained in approximately 339 million guest records globally were exposed by the hack.
Following an ICO investigation, it is believed the vulnerability began when the systems of the Starwood hotels group were compromised in 2014. Marriott subsequently acquired Starwood in 2016, but the exposure of customer information was not discovered until 2018. The ICO’s investigation found that Marriott failed to undertake sufficient due diligence when it bought Starwood and should also have done more to secure its systems.
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “The GDPR makes it clear that organisations must be accountable for the personal data they hold. This can include carrying out proper due diligence when making a corporate acquisition, and putting in place proper accountability measures to assess not only what personal data has been acquired, but also how it is protected.
“Personal data has a real value so organisations have a legal duty to ensure its security, just like they would do with any other asset. If that doesn’t happen, we will not hesitate to take strong action when necessary to protect the rights of the public.”
Like British Airways, Marriott has co-operated with the ICO investigation and has made improvements to its security arrangements since these events came to light. The regulator insists the company will now have an opportunity to make representations to the ICO as to the proposed findings and sanction.
The ICO has been investigating this case as lead supervisory authority on behalf of other EU Member State data protection authorities. It has also liaised with other regulators. Under the GDPR ‘one stop shop’ provisions the data protection authorities in the EU whose residents have been affected will also have the chance to comment on the ICO’s findings.
The ICO said it will consider carefully the representations made by the company and the other concerned data protection authorities before it takes its final decision.