The Data Protection Act has been put into place by the government of the United Kingdom to control and regulate how the personal information of clients, consumers and citizens is used by businesses, organisations, and the government themselves. It is an extension or form of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which is aimed at data protection and privacy of European Union citizens. If your business deals with any kind of personal information about your clients, it is extremely important to follow the regulations carefully and comply with the law. This applies to the method of gaining, using, storing and sharing the data you collect. Failure to comply with this new Data Protection Act is considered a criminal offence and severe punishments can be given.
The government labels these regulations as ‘data protection principles’, and anyone who has personal data has to make sure the information is utilised according to these principles. These principles centre around the idea of clarity for the consumer and explicit, relevant yet limited purposes for the business or organisation.
The protection surrounding more sensitive personal information has been increased, meaning more legal support. Sensitive personal information now includes not only race, political opinions and religious, but also genetics and biometrics.
As a consumer, you have new rights when dealing with your personal information. You have the right to be informed about your data and then edit, erase and restrict your data based about what you find. Special focus is on automated decision-making processes as well as profiling that is undertaken based off your personal information. If you make a claim to access or edit your personal data in any way, the business or organisation you contact will have one month to get back to you. Not replying within one month is in breach of the act.
Although in the modern era, most of this data will be found on servers online; the law applies to all forms of personal information. Therefore, effective data destruction can take many forms, such as paper shredding or deletion on multiple servers found across the internet.
New criminal offences are introduced to run in line with this act. Altering and concealing information after an access request and deliberately ‘re-identifying’ information previously ‘de-identified’ are examples of criminal offences found in the act. The enforcement powers are also increased, with increased ability to ask for information and enter premises to inspect. This is coupled with criminal offences for destroying or misleading officers who try to access such information.
The Data Protection Act does much to improve consumer rights and protect personal information from malicious action. It should not interfere with business practice so long as businesses and organisations employ good practice when handling such data. In the modern era, protecting your privacy and personal information is crucial for your quality of life.