BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Workspace rights - Data protection rules harden

BRAIN FOOD: Matters for the mind to chew on - Workspace rights - Data protection rules harden - Your business is constantly turning over information about people. However, the legal rules on processing this information have just tightened a notch or two.

by IAN JEFFERY, a partner, Lewis Silkin Solicitors; e-mail:ian.jeffery@lewissilkin.com

Your business is constantly turning over information about people. However, the legal rules on processing this information have just tightened a notch or two. The UK's current data protection legislation came into force in March 2000 but an 18-month grace period was granted to allow businesses to put existing systems in order. This ended on 24 October.

Many existing paper files are now affected. You may have to spend time managing, updating and shredding archived material. When an individual requests access to information on themselves, you have 40 days to comply and must provide copies of all records, both computerised and manual.

Tougher rules on direct marketing and international transfer of personal information now apply to existing computer records. Be warned - a prompt data protection audit could save time, money and much aggravation in the long run.

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