The Data Protection Act (DPA) is a United Kingdom Act of Parliament. It defines a legal basis for the handling in the UK of information relating to living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs protection of personal data in the UK. Although the Act does not mention privacy, in practice it provides a way in which individuals can enforce the control of information about themselves. Most of the Act does not apply to domestic use, for example keeping a personal address book. Organisations in the UK are legally obliged to comply with this Act, subject to some exemptions.
Compliance with the Act is enforced by an independent government authority, the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). The ICO maintains guidance relating to the Act.
Key principles of information handling:
- Data may only be used for the specific purposes for which it was collected.
- Data must not be disclosed to other parties without the consent of the individual whom it is about, unless there is legislation or other overriding legitimate reason to share the information (for example, the prevention or detection of crime). It is an offence for Other Parties to obtain this personal data without authorisation.
- Individuals have a right of access to the information held about them, subject to certain exceptions (for example, information held for the prevention or detection of crime).
- Personal information may be kept for no longer than is necessary.
- Personal information may not be transmitted outside the EEA unless the individual whom it is about has consented or adequate protection is in place, for example by the use of a prescribed form of contract to govern the transmission of the data.
- Subject to some exceptions for organisations that only do very simple processing, and for domestic use, all entities that process personal information must register with the Information Commissioner.
- Entities holding personal information are required to have adequate security measures in place. Those include technical measures (such as firewalls) and organisational measures (such as staff training).
Also subjects are allowed/have the right to make changes to wrong information