Soapbox day today...... In principle, it’s a good idea, but unfortunately, it’s misunderstood, misapplied and is a good cover for jobsworths to be unhelpful. Here are some examples, all true. What’s brought on my bout of irritation today is this.
I came home to find yet another letter from the TV Licensing People. It’s addressed to someone who used to live next door but has never lived at my house. She moved from next door about a year ago. When I phoned to tell them that she doesn’t live at my address and never has; and she moved from next door a year ago they said they couldn’t correct it because she has to tell them.
I asked how she could do that when she wasn’t there any more and I don’t have a forwarding address, they said they couldn’t so anything because of the Data Protection Act. I hope they turn up here one day so I can show them my TV licence and watch their discomfiture. Apart from anything else it’s a waste of public money.
A couple of years ago I sponsored a young player in a local rugby team. I was invited to a networking event. I asked who was going or if I could have a list of names. It was refused (data protection y’know!). But shortly after that a sports magazine phone me on my mobile (that information is not published) wanting to sell me advertising.
Having refused data to me that I could have acquired if I’d gone to the event, the club had handed over my personal details without telling me and without permission. What price data protection there? You won’t believe this one. When I was assaulted by a foul mouthed, violent woman in 2009, Thames Valley Police interviewed her and she admitted it.
She runs a hairdressing establishment in Stony Stratford (Sweeny Todd comes to mind). However, because she said I started it (I am considerably shorter and slighter than she, 20 years older and emphatically not a street brawler – so draw your own conclusions) they refused to investigate any further (I guess it meant doing some real work). I wanted to sue her for loss of earnings as I had been so badly injured in the attack that I couldn’t work for a week. Get this. They refused to disclose her statement on the grounds of data protection. Believe it or not the Information Commissioner’s Office agreed.
They had a hissy fit after my MP wrote to them. It’s enough to bring out the vigilante in one...... (If anyone has any good ideas for progressing this is a lawful fashion I should be pleased to hear from you.) Whether it’s the Act that’s wrong or the utter stupidity of people applying it, it’s hard to say, but it does seem to be a waste of time. Those who should be protected aren’t and those who shouldn’t are.
Just because it is stupidly applied in many cases, one must remember there is an important and genuine reason for the Data Protection Act. Employers must ensure that they have express written permission to collect personal sensitive data and should only use it for the purpose for which it has been collected. Data kept should be relevant, up-to-date and secure (so stop putting the filing cabinet key under your keyboard when you go home at night). For any queries about data protection in employment give us a call.
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