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Describe the ‘Data Protection Acts (1984, 1988 and 1994 Guidelines)’ and give a simple example of what a student working with IT in a school/college should look out

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The Data Protection Acts aim to ensure that the collection of data on individuals and others is used specifically for the purposes intended, and not for private use.

It was passed in Parliament in the UK as a form of identity safety for people. The basic premise of each Act is that if anyone ever needs to access information on another individual for whatever reason, this reason must be extremely valid, and follow a protocol for data gathering.

A person who works in IT has to keep in mind that they are in control of data that is personal, financial, and confidential. They could be held liable for accessing information without consent only because they have access to it. For this reason, the place of employment of an IT professional MUST have a specific contractual protocol that ensures that all IT personnel will follow it to avoid potentially dangerous assumptions.

The University of Lancaster, for example, cites these as their own protocol for data collectors and data administrators. You can see how specific the organization is when it comes to allowing access to data, and what to do with it.


To make a subject access request- an individual is entitled to be supplied with a copy of all personal data held.


To require the data controller to ensure that no significant decisions that affect them are based solely upon an automated decision-taking process


To prevent processing likely to cause damage or distress


To prevent processing for the purposes of direct marketing


To take action for compensation if they suffer damage by any contravention of the Act by the data controller


To take action to rectify, block, erase or destroy inaccurate data

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Essentially, the Data Protection Acts passed is legislation which intends to maintain some level of consumer privacy in an increasingly globalized world.  The acts specify that individual information should only be used for the intended purpose, provides guidelines and regulations as to how this information is to be disseminated and stored, and empowers individuals to determine what information has been collected about them.  In an attempt to reduce the misuse of personal information and its calamitous effect on their lives, the last passed in England is applicable to the European Union.  In terms of what IT Students need to know about it, the idea of possessing personal information is something that must be treated with a sense of professionalism and integrity.  The law stresses this as it argues that security, information technology, and dissemination are not mutually exclusive.

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