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Data Protection Act 1998

The Data Protection Act 1998 sets out standards which must be adhered to when obtaining, recording, holding, using or disposing of personal data. It also provides living individuals with the right to access personal information held about them. The right applies to all information held on computers and also covers most manual records.

Data Protection Principles

The Data Protection Act 1998 standards are summarised by eight Data Protection principles.

Personal data must be:

  • processed fairly and lawfully
  • obtained only for one or more specific and lawful purpose(s)
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose(s) for which they are processed
  • accurate and kept up to date
  • not kept for longer than necessary
  • processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under the Act
  • protected by appropriate security (practical and organisational)
  • not transferred outside the EEA (European Economic Area) without adequate protection.

The Information Commissioner is the Government officer with the responsibility for promoting good practice and observance of the law, for providing an information service and for encouraging the development of codes of practice. Further information can be found on the Office of the Information Commissioner website.