Data Protection Law

Protection of personal information stored by organizations, businesses or the government.

Data Protection Law

The Data Protection Act controls how your personal information is used by organisations, businesses or the government. Everyone who collects data has to follow strict rules called ‘data protection principles’. They must make sure the information is:

  • processed fairly and lawfully;
  • obtained & used only for specified and lawful purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate, and where necessary, kept up to date;
  • kept for no longer than necessary;
  • processed in accordance with the individuals rights (as defined);
  • kept secure;
  • transferred only to countries that offer adequate data protection.

    There is stronger legal protection for more sensitive information, such as:

  • ethnic background
  • political opinions
  • religious beliefs
  • health
  • sexual health
  • criminal records

The Data Protection Act gives you the right to find out what information the government and other organisations stores about you.

You may write to the organisation and ask for a copy of the information they hold about you. The organisation is legally required to provide you with a copy of the information they hold about you if you request it.

Certain information can be withheld. There are some situations when organisations are allowed to withhold information about:

  • the prevention, detection or investigation of a crime
  • national security or the armed forces
  • the assessment or collection of tax
  • judicial or ministerial appointments

An organisation doesn’t have to say why they are withholding information.

Organisations may charge you for providing the information. The cost is usually no more than £10 but it can be more if there is a lot of information or if it is held in manual (i.e. paper) records.

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