The penalty for breaching the Data Protection Act goes up on 6 April 2010 from a corporate drop in the ocean to a serious chunk of cheese.

The Information Commissioner’s Office will now hand out compulsory audit notices along with up to a maximum of a £500,000 fine for the most serious of situations that result through negligent behaviour. The previous limit was just £5000.

The idea is, of course, to encourage companies to educate their employees on the dangers of dealing with public data and to be wary when carrying it around on laptops, USB sticks and other devices which can, and do, fall into the wrong hands.

Quite how hard this government-backed scheme will come down if there are any more data loss situations by the Ministry of Defence or national councils will certainly be interesting to see. Whatever the case, we hope it makes these breaches of public data a little less commonplace.