Published on February 20th, 2014 | by admin

Data Protection – Are You Aware Of Your Responsibilities?

When it comes to receiving, protecting, erasing and storing data, data protection is a serious business for any organisation to deal with.

Governed by strict legislation, particularly in relation to the personal information held about customers, clients, suppliers and staff, The Data Protection Act 1998 covers data stored on a computer or an organised paper filing system about living people.

It is vital that small businesses stay on the right side of the law as the financial and reputational consequences of falling short can be very far reaching.

The independent authority set up to ‘uphold information rights in the public interest’ is the Information Commissioner’s Office.

To stay within the law governed by them, any company must adhere to the eight principles of data protection:

1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless –

(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and

(b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.

2. Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.

3. Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.

4. Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.

5. Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.

6. Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this Act.

7. Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

8. Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.

Following the findings of the Leveson Enquiry, calls for greater powers to prosecute those who breach data protection principles mean these principles are even more relevant and important than ever before.

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