About the Act

  • The Data Protection Act 1998 covers all personal information relating to living individuals.
  • The Act is very complex and uses technical language. Please see our Definitions page for common terms used in the Act.
  • There are eight principles which control how personal information is used.
  • There are a number of conditions for using personal information, one of which at least one must apply before you can do anything with personal information.
  • A special group of personal information called sensitive personal information has different, more specific conditions.
  • There is an independent Government appointed watchdog who ensures compliance with the Data Protection Act called the Information Commissioner.
  • All organisations who hold personal information must register annually with the Information Commissioner, the types of information they process, whom the information is about and why the information needs to be processed. This process is called Notification.
  • People about whom information is held have the right to see what information on them is held by the organisation.

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