Monday, May 08, 2006

FOI request

I recently made a freedom of information request to the UK Information Commissioner concerning the number of complaints involving the processing of personal data on the internet. I have finally received a reply. Unfortunately, the office cannot give me the number of complaints that they receive because their electronic system does not enable them to search through a specific criteria (ie. keyword search). What was interesting however, was their response to information published on the websites.

We have in the past received correspondence about data published on websites run by private individuals, such as amateur genealogy websites and personal home pages. Processing in these cases is often exempt from the DPA (Data Protection Act 1998) by virtue of the exemption at section 36 (which states that personal data processed by an individual only for the purposes of that individual's personal, family or household affairs (including recreational purposes) are exempt from the DPA.

Although this approach is pragmatic, it does not take account of the narrow interpretation given by the European Court of Justice in Lindqvist of Art. 3(2) of the Data Protection Directive on domestic purposes and presents a particular problem. Is this provision (section 36) in line with Art. 3(2) Data Protection Directive? I have yet to consult my legal colleagues on this matter, but I am beginning to wonder whether the Data Protection Act and its application on the internet has any relevance in the UK? Perhaps I should write an article on this.

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