TT45: Data Protection Act 1998
There are bandits in them there hills
Previously in Topical Tips 30 the main requirements of the Data Protection Act, the procedures for registration and the eight principles of good information handling were outlined. This issue highlights the way the legislation is now being abused by unscrupulous organisations.
Under the act most businesses in the United Kingdom are required to register and pay an annual fee of £35. A number of unauthorised agencies are exploiting this by masquerading as the official Government Agency dealing with Data Protection – and charging up to three times the proper fee. These ‘cowboy’ operators have created a highly lucrative market for themselves.
The official Government Agency (the Information Commissioner) is well aware of the activities of the unauthorised agencies, but despite investigations through the Office of Fair Trading and the local Trading Standards Authorities, they have been unable to get the cowboy operators closed down.
There is only one official agency
For the avoidance of doubt, there is only one official Government Agency which deals with registration under the Data Protection Act. This is the Information Commissioner, Wycliffe House,Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF. Tel: 01625 545700. Fax: 01625 524510. Email:firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch out for the three main unauthorised agencies that the Information Commissioner is currently aware of:
- The Data Protection Agency (Liverpool)
- The Data Processing Protection Corporation (Guisborough)
- The Data Protection Commissioner (Hyde, Cheshire)
And there will no doubt be others springing up.
A reminder of the key issues
- All Data Controllers who process manual and automated data about individuals must notify the Information Commissioner
- All Data Controllers must comply with the eight principles of good information handling (see Topical Tips 30)
- Failure to comply could result in a fine of up to £5,000
Barnes Roffe Topical Tips
- Ensure that all relevant personnel that may be contacted are on the look-out for the cowboy organisations
- Deal only with the Information Commissioner
- Refer to Topical Tips 30 to remind yourself of the eight principles of good information handling
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