January 29, 2007

Data Protection Act 1998 - Use it or loose it

We received the following email:

Dear PJP,

you should note for your own reference and others (that is if you do not already know this) that using the DPA
[Data Protection Act] will also give the University the ability to withhold information, e.g. investigation reports where third parties have refused to permission for disclosure or have asked for confidentiality. They will seize upon any exemptions that they can apply.

It is likely that in these cases the information comissioner will hold the University to be in breach of the Data Protection Act, but penalities for this are not always severe, thus since it takes months to resolve complaints with the information comissioner, and the University of course know this, then it serves their interests at the time to deny disclosure.

It is better to go for the information that you think will be withheld, informally, before making a Subject Access Request - I would also get a solicitor to handle a DPA request in future, as there can be a lot of things to challenge when you receive the return of a Subject Access Request.

In summary, using the DPA is a powerful and cheap right - it is very effective.




Anonymous said...

Journalists are more willing to use a document scheduled under a Freedom of Information request (i.e. including those you already possess, but noted in the DSAR response) as they could be viewed as "in the public domain". The legislation specifically excludes those obliged to release records from liability for defamation (but not the authors).

Anonymous said...

I have a feeling that there are surveillance equipment in my office.

Does anyone know what the regulations are about this?

Anonymous said...

Interesting to know.