In a year where multiple uncertainties have swept the globe, timeshare owners appear to be getting swept under the rug. Since we’ve covered a majority of the timeshare problems in the States, we thought it’d be beneficial to see how grounded vacation owners are doing overseas. But it appears they’re dealing with the same set of issues. Remember Marriott’s data breach that we wrote about in the beginning stages of the pandemic? Well, millions of their former guests are not very happy about it.
According to The Guardian, a substantial class action lawsuit against Marriott for privacy concerns has been picking up steam since August. A technology consultant by the name of Martin Bryant has been on the front lines of legal efforts in the U.K.. He claims to be speaking on the people’s (Marriott’s data breach victims) behalf. Because the heist of private information was one of the largest of all time, a number of Wales’ residents have banned together during lockdowns to take legal action in the High Court.
What Does the Marriott Class Action Entail?
The proposed lawsuit initially sought compensation for people living in England that made a Marriott International Starwood reservation prior to September 10th, 2018. But shortly after, those who booked rooms at any of the impacted hotels around the world were eventually added. These included affiliated Marriott W, Le Méridien, Westin and Sheraton hotels and resorts. Guests at these locations will automatically be included in the class action against Marriott unless they decide to opt out.
Bryant claims he brought the case to the high court’s attention because travelers don’t always realize the risks they’re exposed to “when our data is compromised through no fault of our own”. He went on to say that he hopes the case will “raise awareness of the value of our personal data”. While his inevitable goal is to help consumers find restitution for the irresponsibility of Marriott’s data breach, he also looks to put data owners on notice. “They must hold our data responsibly,” he said.
Educating Consumers on Marriott’s Data Breach.
While this may seem like a huge development, only 7 million people in the U.K. have been reportedly affected by Marriott’s data breach. That leaves 332 million others without much direction on how to legally act on private data theft. In America, it seems most of us are either focused on masks, income or the 2020 election. Many aren’t even aware that potential compensation is at their fingertips.
A member of Bryant’s legal team reiterated the seriousness of the issue by saying Marriott International has been failing for “several years” now. Because of this, they’re now being accused of refusing to provide “adequate technical or organizational measures to protect millions of their guests’ personal data – which was entrusted to them”.
Not many people even know that Marriott’s data breach lasted several years. Since 2014, it is stated that unidentified hackers had unauthorized access to millions of guest’s personal details and payment information. The depth of the scheme is yet to be fully explained by investigators but many consumers are still affected today.
Marriott Mum, But Regulators Take Action in U.K.
Although Marriott has refused to comment on the London class action, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has already proposed a £99.2m fine. They’ve been watching and warning Marriott since July of 2019. British Airways was recently slapped with a £183m fine by the ICO for similar reasons. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), implemented in 2018, enables fines up to 4% of turnover, “depending on the severity of security failings.”
UK’s Director at Orange Cyberdefense, Stuart Reed, said, “It is essential that all organizations take the utmost care and due diligence when applying relevant processes and procedures for good data hygiene. The suit filed against Marriott should “serve as a wake-up call to companies about the penalties they may face for not prioritizing cybersecurity,” he said. “Ongoing education and awareness amongst employees from the board down is critical to ensuring a layered approach of people, process and technology.”
Will Marriott’s Data Breach Be Their Demise?
While Americans appear to be late to the party (or protest for that matter), it’s safe to say that Marriott’s data breach is creating waves in Wales. While it may not be timeshare related, the resort chain will definitely be affected across the board from their mistake. With travel shut down and vacation owner lawsuits on the horizon, 2020 will be a year for Marriott to forget – and hopefully learn from.