When you run a business it is extremely important that you take data protection seriously. The Data Protection Act 1998 is the legislation which you and your business need to comply with. There are serious consequences for businesses who do not deal properly with the data they collect from people who are in contact with them for whatever reason.

How Important Is The Data Protection Act?

It is important to protect personal data from people who are clients, staff and customers too and you must check what your responsibilities are under the Data Protection Act to make sure that you fulfil these.

Most businesses these days retain and use personal data and it is therefore important that you inform the Information Commissioner, who will register your usage of personal data. You must then follow the eight principles which are laid down by the Data Protection Act and you must:

  • Process all personal data lawfully and fairly
  • Only get personal data for specific and lawful use
  • Ensure the data is relevant for its use
  • Make sure that it is correct and up to date
  • Only keep data for as long as you need it
  • Process the data making sure that individuals rights are not compromised
  • Make sure your data is not lost, destroyed or used or obtained by anyone without permission
  • Not use outside of Europe without proper protection

On top of the eight principles which are laid down by the Information Commissioner, if the data you hold includes information about political views or ethnicity for example, you will be subjected to more provisions.

Who Can Make A Request To The Information Commissioner?

Anyone can make a request to the Information Commissioner to find out what personal data you hold about them and once this request has been made you have 40 days to respond. This is known as a subject access request and you must comply with this type of request or there may be sanctions.

If you would like more detailed information about how the laws around Data Protection affect your business, you may decide that you want to talk to a specialist solicitor to ensure that your business is protected.

For more information about this article or any aspect of our commercial legal services, please call us on 0800 142 2775 or reply to this email and we will be delighted to help you (there is no charge for initial telephone discussions).