D-Day for Data Protection

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On May 25th this year a new law comes into effect that seeks to protect the rights and privacy of individuals by changing the way that organisations that hold information manage personal data. These regulations apply to all organisations that hold data on what are rather splendidly called "natural living persons". They supersede the 1988 Data Protection Act and reflect not only the changes in technology in the last 30 years but also the increasing concerns people have about the erosion of personal privacy.

Chairman Alan Wilkinson says "The amount of data the Community Centre holds on individuals is small and is not of a highly sensitive nature. It is held by various Committee members to run the Centre efficiently and is never shared with other organisations. However, we, like Mark Zuckerberg, must ask ourselves the same questions and provide legally acceptable answers."

The Community Centre has set up a sub-committee to develop appropriate 'best practice' and a written policy to ensure that they comply with the law. The questions they are asking themselves are:

* Who holds what data and is that data adequately password protected?
* What was the purpose that the data was gathered for, is it specific and relevant, and is it used only for the purpose for which it was gathered?
* Is the data up-to-date and how are amendments made?
* What safeguards are there to ensure that the data is not shared with others?
* How long is the data kept and how is it transferred/destroyed if a Committee member leaves?

Organisations like the Community Centre are receiving excellent advice from Cheshire Community Action and it is hoped to have at least a draft policy in place by May 25th.

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