Privacy and data protection of computer held information

Birchall, Alan (1998) Privacy and data protection of computer held information. Masters thesis, Lancashire Polytechnic.

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The Data Protection Act 1984 is a major piece of leglislation enacted in the United Kingdom which seeks to control the storage, processing and disclosure of computer held personal data. The Act places certain obligations upon data users, gives certain rights to providers of personal data and sets up an official administrative framework to monitor compliance with the Act and to behave as arbitrator in case of dispute. The Act has considerable implications for the various parties concerned and did not reach the Statute Book without a great deal of debate and controversy.
Any consideration of the implications of the Act inevitably embraces the two disciplines of Law and Computing. Immediately the Act became law, a number of writings appeared which emenated from one or the other. This thesis examines the topic bearing both main contributors in mind. It is concerned firstly with the background to the subject of data privacy. Then, the history of the various attempts to achieve workable and acceptable legislation in the United Kingdom is considered. The provisions of the Act are examined and discussed critically and various problems identified.
The role of the Data User is discussed and special reference is made to the security measures made necessary by the Act. Final conclusions are that the issue of security is central to any discussion of data protection. Based upon an analysis of the available literature, the subject is fully investigated in order to identify the underlying problems of privacy and data protection. Relevant techniques and methods of providing security for personal data are identified. The provisions of the Act, being central to the whole purpose of this thesis, are carefully analysed. This leads to a recognition of certain deficiencies in the legislation and suggestions for improvement.

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