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The Information Commissioner's office is also referred to as the ICO and they are the UK’s independent authority, who are set up to uphold information rights in the public interest, to promote openness by public bodies and to protect the data privacy of individuals.

The ICO enforces and oversees, amongst other legislation, the Data Protection Acts 1998 and 2018, the new General Data Protection Regulations or GDPR, and the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

They have the power to investigate data controllers, report breaches and to levy fines on organisations that have failed to comply with the new General Data Protection Regulations.

They also provide advice and guidance on these subjects to both individuals and organisations through their website, as well as information about the action they have taken in previous cases. 

Under GDPR, businesses and individuals who collect and use personal data and determine how personal data is processed are Data Controllers and must pay a fee to ICO.

How much you pay depends on the number of staff you have, and the fees start from £40 per year for micro organisations that annually turn over a maximum of £632,000 or have no more than 10 members of staff. The next tier applies to small and medium-sized businesses with a turnover of less than £36 million, or businesses that have no more than 250 members of staff and the fee for these organisations is £60 per year. If you do not meet either of these criteria the fee is £2,900 per year. You should be aware that if you do not tell the ICO they will assume that you fit into this final, most expensive tier.
GDPR does not apply to individuals processing personal data in the course of exclusively personal or household activity.

There are some exemptions for certain organisations but these are very few, so if you are considering claiming an exemption it would be best to check that you are entitled to do so with the ICO directly. They provide information about exemptions on their website and also have a small business telephone helpline.