Monday 15 July 2019 6:13 am

Debate: Will the British Airways GDPR fine have a bigger impact than the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

Will the British Airways GDPR fine have a bigger impact than the Cambridge Analytica scandal?

Yes Nicola Pero is chief technology officer at Engage Hub.

The Cambridge Analytica scandal was undoubtedly huge in terms of damaging public opinion of social media giants. It is one of the reasons that we have come to expect distrust of social media platforms to be almost the new norm. 

But I think the fallout from the British Airways data breach goes much further than this.


The Information Commissioner’s Office’s decision to fine BA more than £183m has the potential to leave a huge impact on all businesses, not just social media platforms, since it shows that, in the GDPR era, cyber negligence can be met with the heftiest of fines. 

The regulators certainly responded to public pressure to ensure that the highest penalties are paid for data loss.

Consumers and regulators rightly expect companies to treat personal data with due care, and it is now up to all customer-facing businesses to up their game and improve the security and the quality of their timely communications and interactions with their customers.

No – Rowan Kisby is strategy director at MullenLowe Profero.

While in financial terms the British Airways fine is a serious step-change in consequence, the nature of the two events and the extent of their impact differ markedly. 

For BA – and for Marriott, also caught up in last week’s headlines – these fines are a post-regulation event. 

Of course, lessons will be learned, security will be tightened, and we’ll see a few more headlines of this type. 


But while the reviews which are probably happening in boardrooms across Europe may reveal gaps in their GDPR planning that require speedy remediation, the solution will be clear – if costly.

The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal, however, impacted culture. It made us question exactly how far businesses should plan for – and be held responsible for – the unintended consequences of their actions. 

And as consumers of their services, it made us reconsider how we should respond in a world that suddenly felt very “black mirror”. 

Pandora’s box has opened, and both business and society will still be feeling the repercussions for years to come.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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