Data Protection Act 1998
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The Data Protection Act 1998 is an up-dated act of parliament designed to replace the Data Protection Act of 1994. The act is applicable to any organisation that has electronic information and governs the way they use the information.  

The act states clear definitions: 

  • 'DATA' - Describes any information held electronically. 
  • 'DATA CONTROLLER' - Someone who controls the use of data within an organisation. 
  • 'DATA PROCESSOR' - Someone who processes data. 
  • 'DATA SUBJECT' - The individual upon whom the information is recorded. 
  • 'PERSONAL DATA' - Information held on data subject. 

In general terms, the act states: 

  • You must have a legitimate reason for holding electronic information about someone. 
  • You must tell that individual that you are holding information on them. For example if it is on a printed form and it is going to be transferred onto a database, you must state on the form that you will comply with the act, this will also apply to a web based form. 
  • You must get the consent of the individual upon whom you are storing information. All information must be processed fairly. 
  • You must ensure that all information is accurate, and kept up to date. 
  • You must take adequate measures to protect personal data from damage and un-authorised access. 
  • You must not transfer data outside the European Economic Area, unless you have the permission of the data subject. 

The data subject has certain rights which are: 

(1) The data subject has the right to view any information held on them.

(2) The data subject has the right to seek compensation if the data held on them has caused distress e.g direct marketing, incorrect credit records, etc. 

Companies, which hold electronic data, are required to the office of the data protection commissioner to register their business details. 

The commission holds regular presentation around the UK to discuss the act, the web address is: 

Remember the act is only UK specific. Please check your own national government literature for applicable legislation.

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