So much of modern life takes place online. In addition to the personal information, we give to services, shops and banks that manage our finances we also provide data every time we search the net. Dating sites and other Apps that aim to introduce people to friendship and romance are commonplace now. But how safe are they? Once those personal details are handed over, it can be almost impossible to know what someone might do with them. We expect companies to protect the information we allow them to hold about us, so what happens when they fail? In this article, we examine what is meant by stalker data protection breach claims.
Attracting the unwanted attention of someone who is at best a nuisance and at worst a risk to your personal safety can be a devastating experience. If you are reading this, you may already be suffering the cyber abuse of someone who obtained your personal information and exploited it for personal reasons.
Help is available. At Legal Helpline we can introduce you to a specialist solicitor who could take up your case and calculate damages for the things you’ve suffered as the result of a personal information data breach. Why not call now, in complete confidence. It’s a free initial consultation and our team are happy to help.
- You can call us direct on 0161 696 9685
- Write or email at Legal Helpline
- Use the ‘live support’ option, bottom right of this screen.
Nothing is more important than your personal safety and privacy. If you have been needlessly exposed to unwanted attention because a company failed to protect your information, you could be owed compensation.
Select A Section
- A Guide On Stalker Data Protection Breach Claims
- What Are Stalker Data Protection Breach Claims?
- What Is Online Stalking?
- Types Of Cyberstalking, Harassment And Abuse
- How To Prevent A Stalker Obtaining Your Personal Data
- The EE Data Breach and Stalker Case
- Calculating Stalker Data Protection Breach Claims
- Types Of Data Breach Compensation Awarded To Victims Of Stalkers
- A Stalker Breached My Data Privacy, What Should I Do?
- Data Protection Breach Claims With A No Win No Fee Solicitor
- How Do I Report A Data Breach By A Stalker?
- How A Data Breach Protection Lawyer Could Help You
- Speak To A Solicitor
- FAQs Data Breach By A Stalker
- Where To Learn More
It can be an unpleasant fact of life that we are forced to consider legal action against the unwanted attentions of others. Whether you submitted information about yourself, or if your details were simply accessed by an opportunist, their attention can be menacing and disruptive.
Since the inception of new data protection laws the Data Protection Act 2018 and the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) any company that requests or requires any personal information has a legal duty to keep it secure. These new laws are strict and a non-departmental public body called the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has far-reaching powers to enforce them. We explain those laws and how they can help you.
Furthermore, an alteration in the position of the law means that stalker data protection breach claims can be calculated in much the same way as a personal injury or medical negligence case. With the right information, it’s possible to secure compensation from the company that leaked your details and made it possible for another party to focus unwanted attention on you.
Our table below illustrates what sort of damages are possible for the mental anguish caused by a data breach. Perhaps you needed to leave a good job or even move? With the right evidence, all these costs can be compiled in a claim for compensation. At no upfront cost to you, legal representation in the form of a No Win No Fee lawyer could help address the suffering on all levels.
Firstly, in this article, we focus on the liability of a company or organisation that leaked your data details. However, as the victim of an online stalker, you may have grounds to pursue compensation or criminal proceedings against the individual personally. Under the Protection From Harassment Act, 1997. Cases can be considered on a case by case basis and you might have the right to hold that person directly accountable for behaving towards you in a way that goes against this law. Speak to our team about the different ways a case can be pursued.
This article although it touches upon the effects of stalking is concentrated on how a company can breach your personal information. Therefore, it’s important to look at what a data breach is. GDPR and the ICO classify it as the accidental or deliberate loss, duplication, damage, loss or sharing of personal data in an unauthorised way. That harm might take the form of financial, emotional or social.
Common causes of breaches
Some scenarios that might expose your data to a potential breach in the first instance are:
- The company has a weak firewall or software protection
- They have under-invested in staff awareness or training
- A casual conversation between colleagues has exposed information
- Laptops have not logged out
- Smartphones and USB sticks are lost or stolen
- Emails are sent with unredacted attachments or other details still intact
- Group texts or emails reveal other members details
- Information is not encrypted properly
- Paper data is not stored or destroyed properly
These issues are a breach of GDPR law in their own right, regardless of whether they have allowed a stalker to exploit them.
So who is seeing our data? Let’s look at the main parties involved in the use of our personal information.
- Controllers – are those who collect the information about us in the first place. This can be data that we choose to give over or are required by law to provide.
- Processors – are companies or internal departments who are tasked with processing data on behalf of the data controller.
- Third parties – are the companies and organisations that use that data for an array of purposes such as marketing, improving services and generating increased profits. Key to their usage is the principle of our consent. GDPR and increased Cookie use mean we are asked more than ever if we are happy to consent to our data being used. Rather than simply clicking ‘yes, I agree’ to get the dialogue box out of the way. it can be a good idea to read cookie settings. It’s an opportunity for us to have more control over third party use.
When is consent not required?
In addition to this, companies do not always need your permission to use your data. There are some instances where data use can happen with consent, such as:
- Contract – when you pre-agree contract
- Legal obligation – When an organisation needs to comply with the law
- Vital interests – In order to protect your life or the life of another
- Public tasks – When accessing your data is for the greater good of the public
- Legitimate interests – When the data is being used for legitimate business reasons.
- Consent – when we have given permission
If you feel uncomfortable about the way a third party seems to be using your data, speak to our team. It’s important to pay close attention to what you have agreed to.
Clearly, the unwanted emotional or romantic attentions of another is problematic. What may start as an innocent chat or friendship has the potential to become something more sinister in the minds of some people. Obsessed and perhaps not thinking clearly, stalkers fixate on their victims and seize any opportunity they can to learn more about them and gain closer access.
The proliferation of social media and dating sites online has provided the stalker with a multitude of platforms and opportunities to pursue their victim. The willingness of people on Social media to innocently share personal details can also create opportunities for cyber-stalking. Stalkers may try to access their victims through:
- Social media
- Dating sites
- Chat rooms and online groups
Importantly, it may not have been the innocent sharing of details on social media platforms that exposed you to unwanted attention. Perhaps it was a data breach?
Cyberstalking is usually recognised in the following ways:
- The attention is unwanted
- Usually takes place over a sustained period of time
- Strange or unusual systematic messages online that may at first seem innocent or amusing become more serious or disturbing
- The messages become repeated or harassing and continue, despite firm requests to cease
- The comments may become aggressive or nasty
- Abuse can be anything from posing a comment on social to extreme overtures of hostility or sexual harassment
- Friends or associates may also be contacted with requests for information about you
- Non-associated areas of your life, like work or family, may become implicated
- Soon you may notice you are being monitored and your every move is known to your stalker. This may indicate they have accessed privileged information about you from somewhere.
It’s important to remember that the definition of harassment and abuse may vary from person to person. Some people are much more able to shake off unwanted attention. If a stalker has identified someone more vulnerable or less willing to engage in confrontation, they can use the information they have managed to gather to their benefit.
Stalker data protection breach claims are not just about seeking monetary damages. They are about reclaiming your right to privacy and dignity.
Obviously, personal data security is the first place to start. It’s important to just take a moment to consider the social media post or the group email. Would you be happy for anyone to have access to what you say or show? We can all take more personal responsibility in data security and this government website offers some useful tips about staying private and secure online, and off of it.
The ICO are vigorous in their actions against companies who flout GDPR law. With a maximum penalty amount of £17.5 million, this presents a formidable warning to all those involved in data use to abide by the new data safety laws. The GDPR has established 7 core principles that provide an instant and user-friendly reference point for companies to comply with GDPR:
- Lawfulness, fairness and transparency – are the reasons for data collection fair obvious and legal?
- Purpose limitation – what reason is the data being collected for?
- Data minimisation – are there limits on the amount of information being collected?
- Accuracy – is it correct data?
- Storage limitation – how long is it to be kept for? How will it be disposed of?
- Integrity and confidentiality (security) – are all involved aware of their duties?
- Accountability – promptly address a data problem within the 72-hour time frame of reporting to the ICO, and as soon as possible to the data victim themselves.
The ICO does not pay you compensation. But the weight that their involvement adds to your data protection breach claims is valuable. It demonstrates that you consider the breach to be very serious and are willing to request the involvement of the body set up to regulate data breaches.
Vicarious liability is a concept under which employers are responsible for the conduct and actions of their employees. A recent case involving mobile network providers EE put the subject of data breach and stalkers in sharp focus when an employee used his position within the company to access the data records of a customer and harass her. The victim’s number was switched to a new handset by an employee who was her ex-partner and used this opportunity to access her details.
After the victom realised her account data had been improperly accessed, she complained to EE. As a result, she needed to miss work and spend hours at the police station reporting the stalking.
Examples like this demonstrate how a stalker can use their job or any opportunity to access the data of their victims. Have you suffered the unwanted attentions of someone who obtained data about you either illegally or from an unprotected source? Call our team now for advice about what you can do.
A change in the law called the Vidal-Hall v Google case has altered options for those seeking data protection breach compensation. Whereas in the past it was necessary to prove financial damage to support emotional damage, this landmark ruling changed that. You can now seek damages for either or both. Called material and non-material damages, with the right evidence it can be possible to calculate amounts for both types of loss.
With this in mind, the table below shows what could be possible when a data breach solicitor calculates the mental anguish caused to you by the breach. Taken from the Judicial College Guidelines these figures offer suggested award amounts to personal injury victims. It includes a section that concentrates on the psychiatric distress created by an experience. Data theft and stalking can obviously cause any of the following in a victim:
- Stress and worry
- Depression and anxiety
- Panic attacks and PTSD
- Damage to personal relationships
- Loss of pleasure in life
- Long-term health implications
All of these detrimental consequences carry a suggested compensation amount. When you choose to work with a No Win No Fee data breach lawyer, they can take the results of a psychiatric medical assessment (which they can help arrange for you) and aim for the highest settlement amount on your behalf using these figures:
|Psychiatric damage - severe||Extreme and lasting problems chronically affecting many areas of life.||£54,830 to £115,730|
|Psychiatric damage - moderately severe||Significant problems like stress and trouble working or sleeping.||£19,070 to £54,830|
|Psychiatric damage - less severe||The effect on daily activities and sleep will be taken into account.||£1,540 to £5,860|
|PTSD - severe||Inability to function at work or in life as normal.||£59,860 to £100,670|
|PTSD - moderately severe||Recovery possible but disabilities for foreseeable future with prognosis of some recovery with professional help.||£23,150 to £59,860|
|PTSD - moderate||Largely recovered but some lingering and persisting symptoms, even with therapy.||£8,180 to £23,150|
|PTSD - less severe||Minor symptoms but mostly recovered within 2 years.||£3,950 to £8,180|
As well as non-material damages, you can calculate material loss also. When your sensitive data is leaked it’s not just a stalker who can use it to their advantage. Cybercriminals search the internet looking for information exactly such as this to buy and sell. Once in their possession, fraudulent accounts can be opened in your name. Credit can be taken out and exhausted. All these debts and liabilities can land on your doorstep.
Although banks are generally sympathetic to claims of fraud, and there is a good chance their suspicions may also be raised by unusual activity in your bank account, the simple fact is that you could still remain liable to pay all these amounts back. In severe cases of stalking you might need to leave your job or move home. Or put your children in another school. The repercussions could be endless and every remedial action has a cost.
Only one claim for a data breach can be made so it’s essential to include all the present costs as well as any that may arise in the future. A data breach solicitor can help you properly calculate expenses that might come in after the initial damage has been detected. Bank charges, overdraft fees and late fees are all penalties you may find yourself liable for, weeks or even months later. Your lawyer knows this and can help you construct a realistic figure of compensation to aim for.
Anyone can start a case for compensation. But given the complexity of data breach cases, it may make more sense to use the services of a legal professional. Before we examine the merits of that more closely, there is a step by step procedure that it can be beneficial to follow when making out data protection breach claims.
- Firstly, accurately identify the source of the data leak. The company involved may contact you by writing or email to advise there has been a breach of your personal information. Or you may start to become aware of other social media sites or friends. In worse case scenarios you may suddenly suffer the unwanted and unrestricted attention of the stalker in areas of your life that were formerly private.
- Complain to that company. The ICO offer a useful template to make that easier.
- Wait no longer than three months for a response from that company. If they fail to get back to you, or their response is unsatisfactory, you can officially raise it with the ICO, who may or may not get involved.
- Use this time to formulate a backup option. Gather together as much detailed information as you can to demonstrate the financial and emotional damage you have suffered as a result of the breach and stalking.
- Contact Legal Helpline for free data breach claim advice.
Every company and website has a legal responsibility to protect the personal information they hold about you. Failure on their part, whether it was from insufficient software security or human error at a staff level means that they could be liable for the repercussions of the breach on you.
Legal Helpline specialises in connecting people with skilled No Win No Fee solicitors. Using a solicitor in this way has numerous advantages to help you right now:
- Nothing to pay upfront to hire the solicitor
- As your case progresses, there are no fees to pay the solicitor
- If your case does not succeed, there are no fees to pay to your solicitor
- Your solicitor takes their fee from successful cases only.
- It also means that if the solicitor takes the case on they have a built-in interest in obtaining the highest possible damages on your behalf
The amount is deducted at the end of your case. Capped, the percentage your solicitor keeps is low. This means you always receive the bulk of the damages from the company that breached your data.
If you are at actual risk of harm you should always call the police. If you wish to report the unwanted attentions and activities of another person, you can do so with this link to a ‘Report A Stalker‘ government resource. Furthermore, there are victim support websites that can help in cases of online harassment and cyber-stalking.
There is a time limit on data breach cases. Normally, the claim must be started within 6 years. Crucially, if the data breach case involves your human rights, that window of opportunity shrinks to 1 year. Invasion of privacy cases can involve human rights violations. It’s essential to speak to our team now to get your case started in time.
When confronted with the need to defend yourself and your rights, you might feel overwhelmed at where to start. Stalker data protection breach claims are quite unusual and so it’s essential to select a law firm that can represent you properly. You may go to the law firm that is local to you or perhaps on the recommendation of family or friends. Online searches can generate thousands of options for No Win No Fee. This may or may not be helpful.
At Legal Helpline we can connect with the right No Win No Fee data breach lawyer first time. Our advisors have decades of experience in cases of this nature. In one phone call, our friendly team can assess the eligibility of your case and begin your compensation journey.
In conclusion, we understand at Legal Helpline that it requires bravery to come forward and challenge a stalker, or sue the company whose slip in standards permitted the breach that created them. This is not something you have to do alone. A No Win No Fee data breach lawyer can be with you every step of the way. Start your claim now:
- You can call us direct on 0161 696 9685
- Write or email at Legal Helpline
- Use the ‘live support’ option at the bottom right of this screen.
Thank you for reading our guide on stalker data protection breach claims. Below are some typical questions that you may have regarding data breach claims but if there’s any other information you would like, please do not hesitate to contact our friendly team on the number above. Calls are in the strictest confidence and we can help you right now.
How to prevent cyberstalking?
Obviously, take care of the details that we divulge on social media is a good start. This government website offers information on the prevalence of stalking.
Why does online stalking happen?
Unfortunately, certain individuals struggle to contain their personal desires and this inability can overspill into the lives of others.
How is a company to blame?
A company such as a mobile network provider, social media platform or business website has a duty to protect any personal information they collect. If they allow a person to access your information without authorisation they could be liable.
With regards to data breach claims of any kind, please refer to Legal Helpline’s webpage which gives further advice. Whatever the nature of the data reach, whether it was as the result of medical records at a pharmacy being breached, or perhaps because of information given in your tax return? We can help. Also, you can read more information about what to do as the victim of a data breach caused by an HR department in your workplace.
Writer by JW
Edited by MM.