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Data Protection and FOI

The Data Protection Act 1998 which replaced the 1984 Act received Royal assent on 16th July 1998 and came fully into force in 1999.

As with the 1984 Act, the Act gives legal rights to individuals (data subjects) in respect of personal data held about them. The Act gives effect in UK law to EC Directive 95/46/EC (the Directive).

The Data Protection Act 1998 is designed to cover the collecting, storing, processing and distribution of personal data. It gives rights to individuals about whom information is recorded.

This applies to all individuals whether they are  an employee, elected member or a member of the public. Each individual has the right to access personal data, prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress and prevent processing for the purposes of direct marketing.

Anyone can submit a request to see personal data stored by the Council. Each request made will incur a £10 charge except in the case of employees where this charge is waived.

Anyone can allow a third party to see their personal details and act on their behalf, provided they have given consent.

The Act places obligations on those who record and use personal data (data controllers). They must be open about the use of such personal data through Notification and they must follow sound and proper practices by applying the Data Protection Principles.

A copy of the Act can be viewed at Information Commissioners Office website.

Freedom Of Information (FOI)

The Council provides information on the Freedom of Information Act, and advises citizens how to request public information an authority may hold.

The Freedom of Information Act gives a general right of access to all types of recorded information held by public authorities. It sets out exemptions from that right and places a number of obligations on public authorities.

A 'public authority' is defined in the Act, and includes but is not restricted to central and local government, non-departmental public bodies, the police, the health service and schools, colleges and universities. Any person who makes a request to a public authority for information must be informed whether the public authority holds that information, and subject to exemptions, must be supplied with that information.

Individuals already have the right of access to information about themselves under the Data Protection Act 1998. As far as public authorities are concerned, the Freedom of Information Act will extend this right to allow public access to all types of information held.

Every public authority will be required to adopt and maintain a Publication Scheme setting out the classes of information it holds, the manner in which it intends to publish the information, and whether a charge will be made for the information.

The purpose of a scheme is to ensure a significant amount of information is available, without the need for a specific request. Schemes are intended to encourage organisations to publish more information proactively and to develop a greater culture of openness.

More information on the Freedom of Information Act can be found on the Department for Constitutional Affairs