Total fines showed a 521% year on year increase, with Amazon and WhatsApp paying the most severe penalties

Fines for breaches of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) hit over €1 billion, with 412 total penalties issued in 2021, a significant increase over fines leveed over the past three years since the regulation came into law.

This is according to data analysed by Atlas VPN. It found that companies like Amazon and WhatsApp had to pay off the most significant penalties for violating GDPR laws. On a country basis, Spain has gathered the most fines by far, compared to any other country. 

The 2021 total is a significant increase in comparison to the previous three years. In 2018, when the EU implemented the GDPR law, and a total of €436,000 in fines were issued to businesses. The following year, in 2019, the sum of total fines increased significantly to €72 million. And in 2020, the total worth of fines administered reached over €171 million by the end of the year.

2021 blew out past years by a significant margin, with the total of over €1 billion in GDPR fines a staggering 521% year on year increase. In July 2021, Amazon Europe Core S.à.r.l incurred the highest fine of €746 million. Later on, in September, the EU fined WhatsApp Ireland Ltd. €225 million, the second biggest penalty in GDPR history. 

Cybersecurity writer at Atlas VPN Vilius Kardelis said: “GDPR continues to successfully hold businesses accountable when they misuse people’s data or are ambiguous about their privacy policies. Companies became more responsible when handling their client information to avoid hefty fines from regulators, ultimately benefiting every EU citizen.” 

Spanish firms accumulate 351 fines

In some countries, updated privacy laws affected businesses significantly as they were fined appropriately under the new system. Spain has accumulated 351 fines, resulting in €36.7 million worth of penalties. While the average penalty rounds to about €105K.

Italy is second on the list with 101 fines, which required businesses to pay nearly €90 million. The average penalty in Italy is about €887,000, which stands out as one of the largest compared to other countries. Romania ranks third on the list with a total of 68 sanctions that sum up to €721,000 in fines.