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Data Protection Act 1984

The Data Protection Act 1984 (DPA) is a British Act of Parliament that provided a legal basis for the privacy and protection of data of individuals in the UK. It was repealed by the Data Protection Act 1998. The 1984 Act provided for a regulatory authority, the Data Protection Registrar, to oversee the implementation of and adherence to the Act. The 1984 act was an implementation of the 1981 European Convention for the Protection of Individuals with regard to Automatic Processing of Personal Data, and was followed up by the Data Protection Act 1998 which was an implementation of Directive 95/46/EC which, amongst other measures, expanded the remit of the DPR and renamed the position to the Data Protection Commissioner. According to the provisions of the DPA, data collected by one party to another party may only be used for the specific purposes for which they were collected. Personal data may only be kept for an appropriate length of time and must not be disclosed to other parties without the consent of the data owner. Schools, for example, may decide to keep information on former pupils for no longer than ten years. Most recently, the Freedom of Information Act 2000 further expanded the role to include freedom of information; the job title of the DPR/DPC was changed once again, this time to Office of the Information Commissioner. The UK DPA has a reputation for complexity. Whilst the basic principles are honoured for protecting privacy, interpreting the act is not always simple. The Act covers all personal data which an organisation may hold, including names, birthday and anniversary dates, addresses, telephone numbers, etc.

Data Protection Principles

Personal data must be:

  1. Processed fairly and lawfully (see below for what classes as ‘fairly processed data’).
  2. Obtained for specified and lawful purposes.
  3. Adequate, relevant and not excessive.
  4. Accurate and up to date.
  5. Not kept any longer than necessary.
  6. Processed in accordance with the “data subject’s” (the individual’s) rights.
  7. Reasonably securely kept.
  8. Not transferred to any other country without adequate protection

‘Fairly Processed Data’

In order for data to be classed as ‘fairly processed’, at least one of these six conditions must be applicable to that data. Note that the legal phrase ‘data-subject’ simply means ‘the individual’.

  1. The “data subject” has ‘consented’ (“given their permission”) to the processing;
  2. Processing is necessary for ‘the performance of’ (to speed up the completion of) a contract;
  3. Processing is required under a legal obligation (other than one stated in the contract);
  4. Processing is necessary to protect the vital interests of the “data subject”‘s rights;
  5. Processing is necessary to carry out any public functions;
  6. Processing is necessary in order to pursue the legitimate interests of the “data controller” or “third parties” (unless it could unjustifiably prejudice the interests of the “data subject”).

See also

External links

Article written by Jennifer Kirk based on information from OPSI and Wikipedia.