Equestrian businesses data protection obligations

Are the equestrian businesses you purchase from aware of their data protection obligations? It's possible many are not complying when processing your personal information! 

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, organisations and sole traders processing personal information are required to pay a data protection fee to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) unless they are exempt. 

Whilst 'Processing' is a very broad term, it describes anything a 'business' would do with your personal information, including (but not limited to):

  • collecting;
  • recording;
  • organising;
  • storing;
  • using;
  • retrieving;
  • altering;
  • erasing; and
  • disclosing.

'Personal information' means any detail about a living individual that can be used on its own, or with other data, to identify them. Think your name, email address, phone number, and home address; all of this information is collected, processed and usually stored when you purchase something online or in person, either from a business website or an individual via social media.   

Another category is 'Electronic processing', which is any processing of information that uses computers, including cloud computing, desktop PCs, laptops and tablets. It also applies to any other system that can process information automatically, including:

  • CCTV systems;
  • digital cameras;
  • smartphones;
  • email;
  • credit card machines;
  • call logging and recording systems;
  • clocking-in machines;
  • flexi-time systems; and
  • audio-visual capture and storage systems.

Many businesses trading online or in person are not registered! Not only is it the law to pay the fee, which funds the ICO's work, but it also makes good business sense whether or not they have paid for two reasons:

  1. If you fail to do so, the ICO can issue a monetary penalty of up to £4,000 on top of the fee you are required to pay!
  2. It could impact a business/seller's reputation! Since it is down to them personally to be aware of their data protection obligations! 

Businesses have been paying some form of data protection fee for over 30 years. But how a typical business processes personal data today would be unrecognisable 30 years ago, and this personal data is extremely valuable! 

You can check if a sole trader or business has fulfilled their legal requirement to register with the ICO by visiting ico.org.uk and then searching the register of fee payers, which represents more than 1 million companies.

Which sorts of companies are likely to need to pay?

The fee is payable by a range of companies, from sole traders and small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to large organisations. The amount payable varies depending on the size of the organisation.

Any company using CCTV for crime prevention purposes is required to pay an annual data protection fee to the ICO, regardless of other aspects of their business and operations. This means they do not need to take the ICO's registration self-assessment if they use CCTV for crime prevention purposes because the answer to whether or not they have to pay will always be 'yes'. 

Always check before you purchase from a 'business' to make sure they are registered with the ICO. There are very few exemptions not to be registered, so if they are not on the ICO register, you should consider the risk of them holding and processing your personal information!  

If they are unaware of their legal obligations under the Data Protection Act, you have to stop and think about what else they are unaware of?

What about Horse Cleaning?

Horse Cleaning has been registered with the ICO since 2020, and we have extended our registration each year. Our next renewal is 15 February 2024, and you can search for our registration reference: ZA670226.


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