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Data protection is an important concept of data maintenance. This data protection is achieved by implementing data protection methods and strategies. Data protection is done to protect the data from unauthorised users. Authorisation depends on the type of data and the rights to access it. An organisation protects its data from the intervention of unauthorised people by implementing the corresponding software. To accomplish this, the organisation requires specially trained people. Though data protection is an individual task, it cannot be accomplished in a stretch.
Data protection includes data security, storage, recovery and back up. These functions are not performed by a standalone application; instead data protection is achieved by implementing various components and applications of the system. Data protection and the restriction of data are implemented by the government. The government of many countries has imposed data protection acts. These acts define the limit of access and the restriction as to who can access the particular data (Sizer, 1984). The purpose of passing such acts are to ensure that the data is which is personal or data that belong to a particular organisation are not accessed without the permission from the concerned person. A person can access or process another person’s personal if and only if the person gives permission or access rights to him. This access rights are specified at the time of implementing the data protection measures. These data protection measure guards not only the data but also the hardware and software components pertaining to the specified data. This is done to ensure that not even a small form of that data is accessed by an unauthorised person.
Generally an organisation will protect its data by implementing encryption techniques. These encryption techniques protect the data as they are encrypted using a certain algorithm. Then the data is decrypted using a similar procedure and this protects the data from unauthorised users.
Data Protection Acts
Data protection acts differ from one country to another. The laws are imposed based on the country’s situation and the organisation’s status. Thus the organisation must abide by these laws to protect the data. The selection of laws depends on the company’s situation and the prevailing problems (Smith, 1996). The problems can be resolved by implementing the standard strategies and procedures.
The data protection acts cover every form of data and each law is specific for the type of data. Each and every law is an improved version of the act that was imposed earlier. This gives the organisation a wide range of options to choose from. The data protection acts were passed at regular intervals and the various acts are as outlined below.
The data protection act 1998 deals with the personal data of each and every person. This act protects the personal data and even the processing of personal data. This act included various features which the earlier act did include. This was evident from the changes and modifications that were made to the act that was passed in the year 1984. These changes improved the act and it comprises of factors that influence the personal data and its manipulations. The factors and the inclusions of this act were made available in the website of the information commissioner. The information commissioner’s website had the complete information regarding this act and the website provided the details about the use and advantages of the act. The people were given the authority to access this website to retrieve the details pertaining to this act.
This act specifies that the users are solely responsible for implementing the features of this act. The description and implication, working steps and the ways to make use of this act was clearly specified in the website. It also included the information regarding data processing. This was included as it would help the organisation or an individual to decide about the act and to check whether it can be applied to their data. This act comprised of the operations for data processing and storing. Any individual who revolts against the law will be punished according to the act. If an individual tries to access the data of another person without his permission, he will be sued under this act. Here personal data refers to the information of a living individual. The concerned person can protect the data using the data processor or the data controller (Sizer, 1984). This data controller may be processed by the user himself or can be maintained by professionals.
The 1998 act includes certain unique features that protect the data stored in a machine and data that are in the form of hard copy. The hard copy data may be any photographs, audio or video recordings, and information from data readers. This act covers the intrusion and unauthenticated access to these types of data. Another inclusion in this act is the protection of sensitive data. Sensitive data includes data about politics, medical records and the caste related data.
Data Protection Principles
The data protection act 1998 imposes certain data principles that have to be followed in the process of data protection. The process of data protection comprises of data collection, storage, retrieval and the usage of sensitive data. There are seven data protection principles emphasised in the data protection act.
Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully. (OPSI, 1998).
This principle specifies that personal data must be processed only after an indication or permission is received from the concerned owner of data. Data controllers must get the consent from the owner before processing the personal data.
Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes. (OPSI, 1998).
Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed. (OPSI, 1998).
Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date. (OPSI, 1998).
Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept longer than is necessary for that purpose or purposes. (OPSI, 1998).
Personal Data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under the Act. (OPSI, 1998).
Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data. (OPSI, 1998).
Freedom of Information
Freedom of information act is imposed to access the information of the government and its related public sector authorities. This act allows an individual to access the information regarding the government which has not been released to the public. Generally only certain level of the information pertaining to a country’s government is available for the public’s use. If an individual needs to access any other information, he is not allowed to access it without prior permission. This can be achieved using the freedom of information act. This act provides the public the rights and freedom to access the information that belongs to the government or any public sector company (Henry, 2003). This act covers every form of information and this act permits the user to access information of every medium. Thus a user can send a request to the concerned government for which the government will respond within duration of 20 days. Once the government receives a request, it has to decide whether this information can be provided to the user. Then the corresponding information is sent as a response to the respective request. This user need not necessarily belong to the same government. Instead a person residing in any part of the world can request the government. If an individual requests for information if he does not receive any response from the concerned organisation, the government will take action against the particular organisation. Hence it is the responsibility of the government authorities to provide the public with relevant information.
Initially several freedom of information acts were passed in the government. This freedom of information act came into practice in the year 2005. The act was the result of public’s interference with the government’s affairs and information. This act includes the government bodies, government agencies, public sector companies and its related agencies. Since the rights and freedom of the public became stronger, the government had to provide them with the information they require. Though this act allows the public to know about the governmental information, sensitive data cannot be accessed by the public. The freedom act 2005 covers the universities also so that the aspiring students can get the information from the corresponding universities. The university provides these information to the students based on the universities norms. Though universities are covered under this act, certain information is protected from the users to avoid unnecessary problems.
From the time this act has been implemented, the universities have received dozens of information requests. These requests are mostly regarding the fee waivers and other grievances. In most of the cases the request will be regarding the application forms and other visa information. Certain students may even request for the strategies followed in the university and this information is regularly viewed by distance learners (Sherick, 1978). Students who do not have a direct access to the university make use of these facilities.
The freedom of information act 2008 included certain features and was certainly an improved version of the previous acts. In this act the government has included the provisions for the universities to provide the details regarding the standards of the courses provided by them. This included the maintenance of the university and the facilities provided in the university. Even the marks, grades and pass percentage for each course must be available for the public reference. Since the public have the rights to know about the academic standards and procedures the due information should be made available to them.
Benefits of Freedom of Information Act
The freedom of information act provides various benefits to the public as well as the government. This is beneficial to the government since the required information is known to the public. This reduces the burden of explaining each and every law and procedures that exist in the government. Hence this acts as an advantage to the government. Another benefit of this act is it ensures that no secret laws and amendments are passed in the government. This is possible since the public are in constant touch with the government’s policies and the updates (Henry, 2003). This will help the public to find out the flaws in the existing and proposed laws and acts. The freedom of information act will keep the public informed about the happenings in the government. Thus they can easily monitor the activities and can be sure that the government works in favour of them.
The freedom of information act increases the public’s right to review and access the information. This in turn increases the individual’s right to privacy and the public can expect a good response in return. Due to the public’s intervention in the government’s laws and acts, the government works better to serve the public and provide them with better benefits. Since the public stay in constant touch with the government’s policies and regulations, it becomes difficult for the government and public sector bodies to change or modify the existing policies (Sherick, 1978). Though it may seem to be difficult to implement freedom of information act in developing countries, it would definitely serve the intended purpose.
Freedom of information act was a result of the public’s interest and intervention in the day to day happenings in the government. As people have the right to express their opinion and to request the government for any of their grievances. The freedom of information act is definitely an advantage to the public as they can have the complete information regarding any of the government’s rules and regulations. This eases the work of the government since people become aware of the prevailing situation and the facilities provided by the government. If the freedom of act is followed, it will help the government and public sector bodies to maintain a cordial relationship with the public. This in turn improves the level of communication between the public and the government.
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