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    Location: Aberystwyth, Wales, United Kingdom

    I am the owner and managing director of Information Automation Limited (IAL), a company that specialises in research, consultancy and training for the information profession. We are particularly interested in all forms of electronic information resources (e-journals, e-books, etc) and I teach a course in electronic publishing at the Department of Information Studies in Aberystwyth. Drilling down still further(!), my interests centre on the quality and evaluation of electronic information, and in the thinking that underpins activities in library and information science.
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    Tuesday, January 17, 2006

    Data Protection that works - not!

    My recollection of the UK data protection legislation is that it applies equally to both electronic and paper files. I thought that was all it said. No qualifications, no questions! So I was surprised to see the article - Never email a job reference in The Register and in OUT.LAW.
    The Court of Appeal has said that paper documents escape "subject access" requests unless they form part of a "highly structured manual filing system." In fact they DO MEAN highly structured when they say it:
    The Court of Appeal seemed to think that averagely-structured manual filing systems do not count. "An ability of staff readily to identify and locate whole files, even those organised chronologically and/or by reference to his and others' names, is not enough," it wrote.
    This seems to stand the legislation on its head leaving plenty of scope for individuals to find themselves without protection by the law, and the Information Commissioner's Office struggling to explain what is and what is not within the scope of the Act.

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