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Data Protection

November 19, 2009

If you think an organisation has false information about you, or is using it in a way you disapprove of, or you have not been able to access information held by, or relating to, a public body, you can make a complaint.

Under the Data Protection Act, those who collect and use personal information have to follow rules of good practice for handling information (called the data protection principles). The Act also gives rights to individuals whose information they collect and use.

How do I know if my problem is a data protection problem?

You might have a data protection problem if any of the following apply to you:

  1. You have been denied any of your rights, including your right to see the personal information an organisation holds about you.
  2. Personal information about you is used, held or disclosed:
    1. unfairly
    2. for a reason that is not the one it was collected for, or
    3. without proper security.
  3. Personal information about you is:
    1. inadequate, irrelevant or excessive
    2. inaccurate or out of date, or
    3. kept for longer than is necessary.

To complain

First, tell the organisation concerned and give it an opportunity to put things right. Many data protection problems can be solved quickly without the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) getting involved. You can call ICO’s helpline on 08456 306060 or 01625 545745 for advice to help you to solve the problem.

What happens if I cannot solve the problem myself?

If you have contacted the organisation about the problem but have been unable to solve it, the ICO may be able to help.

If necessary, the ICO will look into your complaint. If the ICO thinks the law has been broken, they can give the organisation advice and ask it to solve the problem. In the most serious cases they can order it to do so.

The ICO cannot award you compensation or punish an organisation for breaking the law. Their main aim is to get the organisation to change the way it works so that it handles personal information properly in the future.

Supporting evidence

You will need to provide the ICO with information in support of your complaint otherwise it may not be eligible for further consideration. Their complaint form explains the kind of information they need, but if you are unsure please call their Helpline on 08456 30 60 60.

Make your complaint

  1. By post:If your supporting evidence is in hard copy, you can fill in the Word version of their complaint form, print it out and post it to us with your supporting evidence.

    Data Protection Act complaint form (Word version for submission by post).

  2. By email: If all your supporting evidence is available electronically, you can fill in the ICO’s online complaint form.

    Data Protection Act complaint form (for submission by email).