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What Rights Do I Have To Get Access To Data Held About Me, Including Personnel Records?

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Introduction

What rights do I have to get access to data held about me, including personnel records? The Data Protection Act 1998, which covers both the public and the private sector throughout the United Kingdom, gives individuals a right to find out what information, including personnel information, is held about them on computer and in some manual records.* This is known as the right of subject access. There is also a right to have inaccurate data corrected, blocked, erased or destroyed, and to seek compensation through the courts for damage and distress caused by such inaccuracy, or by any other contravention of the Act *(The Act applies to records held in manual filing systems if these are structured by reference to individuals or criteria relating to individuals, and allow easy access to the personal data they contain. The Act provides an exemption until 24 October 2001 from all its provisions, and a further six year exemption from some of its provisions, for those manual filing systems where data processing was already under way immediately before 24 October 1998. ...read more.

Middle

More detailed advice can be obtained by contacting the Inforamtion Commissioner, Mrs Elizabeth France, who is responsible for administering and enforcing the Data Protection Act. Her address is: Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF. The telephone number is: 01625 545745. What is the Government doing to protect my personal data from inappropriate disclosure to third parties or other misuse? The Data Protection Act 1998 (the full text is available on the Stationery Office website) came into force on 1 March 2000. It gives effect in UK law to the 1995 EC Data Protection Directive. The Act strengthens and extends the data protection regime created by the Data Protection Act 1984, which it replaces. It provides the statutory framework for the use of computerised information and some manual records about living, identifiable individuals in the United Kingdom. The Act does not prohibit disclosures of such information to third parties, but it regulates the circumstances in which they can be made. ...read more.

Conclusion

Failure to comply with such a notice can be a criminal offence. There are exemptions from some of the Act's provisions (which would otherwise prevent disclosure) for disclosures made in certain very limited circumstances, for example where the disclosure is for the purposes of preventing or detecting crime and where failure to disclose would be likely to prejudice those purposes; or where disclosure is required by or under any enactment, by any rule of law or by order of a court. The Act lays down conditions which must be satisfied before personal data can be processed, with additional conditions for sensitive data (which includes data about ethnic origin, political opinions, trade union membership and health). It also strengthens the rights individuals had under the 1984 Act and creates some new ones (for example there are new express rights to be told who is processing your data and why, and to prevent your data being used for direct marketing.) The Information Commissioner, Mrs Elizabeth France, is responsible for administering and enforcing the Act. Further information about the Act is available from her office at Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. The telephone number is 01625-545745. ...read more.

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