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Data protection laws are key to the increase in data storage, and intrusion into our privacy. The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) forms, with its retinue of subordinate regulations, an opaque and often tedious body of law. But it forms an important part of the online law. According to the Information Commissioner: “the Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them, and it provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly.” It is concerned with misuse of personal information by commercial organisations, rather than by government.

Data protection law is the cause behind the ubiquitous website privacy policy or statement. The main purpose of these statements is to fulfil the information disclosure requirements of the 1998 Act.

Eight Principles

  1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless:
    • at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and
    • 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.

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.

  • Data Protection Act 1998 – Search using the site engine for “Data Protection Act 1998” (opens a new window).
  • Information Commissioner – The data protection pages from the Information Commissioner’s website. These include a search tool for the Data Protection Register (opens a new window).
  • JISC – A JISC briefing paper on data protection (opens a new window).
  • Comply with data protection legislation – An introductory guide from Business Link (opens a new window).
  • OECD Privacy Policy Generator – A privacy policy generator from the OECD. Note that the policies produced by this method are not tailored to UK law (opens a new window).

Glossary: Can-Spam, Customer Relationship Marketing, Database, Database Marketing, Data Protection Act, Digital Marketing, Direct Mail, Direct Marketing, E-mail Harvesting, E-mail Marketing, e-Marketing, E-Privacy Directive, Opt-in, Opt-in E-mail, Pharming, Phishing, Privacy, Siphoning, Spam, Spamhaus Block List, Spyware, Trojan Virus, Troll, Trust, Unique Visitor, Website

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