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Wednesday, 10 July 2019 05:25

UK regulator hits Marriott group with $178m fine for data leak Featured

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UK regulator hits Marriott group with $178m fine for data leak Pixabay

The hotel group Marriott International has been told by the UK Information Commissioner's Office that it will be fined a little over £99 million (A$178 million) over a data breach that occurred in December last year.

The ICO said in a statement on Tuesday that it would be imposing the fine for infringements of the EU General Data Protection Regulation.

Marriott said last year that the breach, which affected its Starwood line of hotels, had exposed the data of 500 million guests to theft.

The hotel chain said it had become aware of the breach on 8 September 2019 and investigations had shown that data was being exfiltrated since 2014.

The ICO statement said about 30 million customers who were affected came from the 31 countries in the European Economic Area, seven million of them being from the UK.

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.”

In a statement to the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Marriott International's president and chief executive Arne Sorenson said: "We are disappointed with this notice of intent from the ICO, which we will contest.

"Marriott has been co-operating with the ICO throughout its investigation into the incident, which involved a criminal attack against the Starwood guest reservation database.

“We deeply regret this incident happened. We take the privacy and security of guest information very seriously and continue to work hard to meet the standard of excellence that our guests expect from Marriott.”

This is the second fine for data breaches announced by the ICO on successive days. On Monday, it said British Airways would be fined £183.39 million (A$329.1 million) for a data breach that occurred in September 2018.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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