The Data Protection Act 1998 came into effect on 1 March 2000. The Act regulates the use of personal data and gives effect in UK law to the European Directive on Data Protection.
What does the Act cover?
The Act is concerned with "personal data", that is information about living, identifiable individuals. This need not be particularly sensitive information and can be as little as a name and address.
The Act gives individuals (data subjects) certain rights. It also requires those who record and use personal information (data controllers) to be open about their use of that information and to follow sound and proper practices (the Data Protection Principles). Data controllers are those who control the purpose for which and the manner in which personal data is processed. Data subjects are the individuals to whom the personal data relate.
The Information Commissioner is responsible for administering and enforcing the Data Protection Act
As the Parish Council holds personal information about living individuals on paper and computer (eg details of planning applications, grant applications etc) we have notified our registration with the ICO under the Data Protection Act 1998. You can find the Parish Council listed on the ICO’s web site.
The Data Protection Principles
We are required to comply with the eight data protection principles. The principles are set out below.
1. Data must be obtained fairly and lawfully
Information should be 'fairly processed' i.e. when you collect the information from individuals you should be honest and open about why you want it.
2. Data must be held only for specific and lawful purposes and not processed in any matter incompatible with those purposes
You must have a legitimate reason for processing the data. You should explain (in most cases in writing): who you (the data controller) are - giving the name of your Council; what you intend to use the information for and to whom you intend to give the personal data. This may be a specific third party, or a may be a more general description such as "other Councils’ etc
3. Data must be relevant, adequate and not excessive for those purposes
Data users should monitor the quantities of data held and ensure that they hold neither too much nor too little. Hold only the data which you actually need.
4. Data must be accurate and where necessary kept up to date.
Personal data should be accurate. If it is not, it must be corrected.
5. Data must not kept for longer than necessary
Only in exceptional circumstances should data be kept indefinitely. In order to comply with the principle you should have a system for the removal of different categories of data from your system after certain periods, for instance, when the information is no longer required for audit purposes
6. Data should be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this Act
This means that individuals must be informed, upon request, of all the information held about them. They can prevent the processing of data for direct marketing purposes and are entitled to compensation if they have been caused damage by any contravention of the Act.
7. Security precautions in place to prevent the loss, destruction or unauthorised disclosure of the data
Data controllers should ensure that they provide adequate security for the data taking into account the nature of the data, and the harm to the data subject which could arise from disclosure or loss of the data. A system of passwords should be in use to ensure that only staff who are authorised can gain access to personal data. Passwords should be changed fairly frequently. Councils should have established, written procedures setting out who is authorised to access which records and for what purpose.
8. Not to transfer data outside the European Economic Area unless you are satisfied that the country in question can provide an adequate level of security for that data
Dealing with subject access requests
If we receive a written subject access request, we must deal with it promptly, and in any case within 40 days from the date of receipt. If we need further information, the 40 days will begin when we receive this further information. We are entitled, if we wish, to ask for a fee of not more than £10 and the 40 days does not begin until this is received.
In response to a subject access request individuals are entitled to a copy of the information held about them, both on computer and as part of a relevant filing system. They also have the right to receive a description of why their information is processed, anyone it may be disclosed to, and any information available about the source of the data.
Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire. SK9 5AF Telephone:01625 545 700 Facsimile: 01625 524510
Note: The advice on this page is based on the Council’s understanding of the law and practice at the present time (March 2012) and is not intended to be a comprehensive statement and no liability can be accepted for any error, omissions or inaccuracies contained therein.