Data Protection

In 1999 the Data Protection Act 1998 was extended. The definition of data now includes all manual and electronic records - including video recordings and group discussions. Under the new provisions there is now specific reference to sensitive personal data: information carried regarding racial or ethnic origin; political opinions; religious or other similar beliefs; physical or mental health; sex life; and criminal convictions or proceedings. Conditions are laid down under which sensitive personal data may be lawfully processed. The 1984 Act set out a system of registration for all users of personal data covered by the Act: data user's name and address; description of personal data held; purpose for which

Changing role of marketing research the data are held; description of sources from which the data are derived; description of people to whom the data may be disclosed; names of places outside the UK to where the data may be sent; and an address for the receipt of requests from data subjects who wish to have access to the data. The 1998 Act introduced a new system of notification. It should be noted that it is against the law to hold or use any data in a way that is inconsistent with the registered entry. Registered entries are valid for specific periods and changes have to be recorded officially.

The Act is concerned with individuals, not corporate bodies, and does not refer to the processing of data by manual means. (Useful guides to the Data Protection Act are available from the Data Protection Registrar, Springfield House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AX.)

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