Research and The Law


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The Data Protection Act , Freedom of Information Act and other pieces of legislation relevant to the (social) researcher

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Research and The Law

  1. 1. Research and The Law <ul><li>The Data Protection Act , Freedom of Information Act and other pieces of legislation relevant to the (social) researcher </li></ul><ul><li>Michael Bromby Glasgow Caledonian University </li></ul>
  2. 2. Legislative Framework <ul><li>The Data Protection Act 1998 </li></ul><ul><li>The Data Protection Act gives you the right to know what information is held about you, and sets out rules to make sure that this information is handled properly. </li></ul><ul><li>Privacy & electronic communications </li></ul><ul><li>The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations set out rules for people who wish to send you electronic direct marketing, for example, email and text messages. </li></ul><ul><li>Freedom of Information Act 2000 + FOISA 2002 </li></ul><ul><li>The Freedom of Information Act gives you the right to obtain information held by public authorities unless there are good reasons to keep it confidential. </li></ul><ul><li>Environmental information regulations </li></ul><ul><li>The Environmental Information Regulations give you the right to obtain information about the environment held by public authorities, unless there are good reasons to keep it confidential. </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Data Protection Act 1998 <ul><li>The Data Protection Act gives individuals the right to know what information is held about them. It provides a framework to ensure that personal information is handled properly. </li></ul><ul><li>The Act works in two ways. Firstly, it states that anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles, which make sure that personal information is: </li></ul><ul><li>Fairly and lawfully processed </li></ul><ul><li>Processed for limited purposes </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate, relevant and not excessive </li></ul><ul><li>Accurate and up to date </li></ul><ul><li>Not kept for longer than is necessary </li></ul><ul><li>Processed in line with your rights </li></ul><ul><li>Secure </li></ul><ul><li>Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection </li></ul><ul><li>The second area covered by the Act provides individuals with important rights, including the right to find out what personal information is held on computer and most paper records. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Privacy & e- com Regs <ul><li>Telesales calls  (not genuine market research) </li></ul><ul><li>Automated calls (no person on the line) </li></ul><ul><li>Faxes (by permission only) </li></ul><ul><li>Email marketing (businesses not included) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The marketer has obtained your details through a sale or negotiations for a sale. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>2. The messages are about similar products or services offered by the sender. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>3. You were given an opportunity to refuse the marketing when your details were collected and, if you did not refuse, you were given a simple way to opt out in every future communication </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Freedom of Information Act 2000 <ul><li>The Freedom of Information Act came into force at the beginning of 2005. It deals with access to official information, while parallel regulations deal with environmental information. </li></ul><ul><li>The Act provides individuals or organisations with the right to request information held by a public authority. They can do this by letter or email. </li></ul><ul><li>The public authority must tell the applicant whether it holds the information, and must normally supply it within 20 working days, in the format requested. </li></ul><ul><li>However, the public authority does not have to confirm or deny the existence of the information or provide it if an exemption applies, the request is vexatious or similar to a previous request, or if the cost of compliance exceeds an appropriate limit. </li></ul><ul><li>If exemption applies, but is qualified, this means that the public authority must decide whether the public interest in using the exemption outweighs the public interest in releasing the information. </li></ul>
  6. 6. FOISA 2002 <ul><li>Exemptions - Information otherwise accessible (Section 25) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Prohibitions on disclosure (Section 26) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Information intended for future publication (Section 27) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Relations within the United Kingdom (Section 28) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Formulation of Scottish Administration Policy (Section 29) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions – Prejudice to effective conduct of public affairs (Section 30) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - National Security and Defence (Section 31) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - International Relations (Section 32) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Commercial interests and the economy (Section 33) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Investigations by Scottish Public Authorities (Section 34) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Law Enforcement (Section 35) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions – Confidentiality (Section 36) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Court Records (Section 37) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Personal information (Section 38) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Health, Safety and the Environment (Section 39) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Audit Functions (Section 40) </li></ul><ul><li>Exemptions - Communications with Her Majesty etc. and Honours (Section 41) </li></ul><ul><li>The Public Interest Test </li></ul>
  7. 7. Public Interest Test <ul><li>The “public interest” is not defined within the Act but it has been variously described as “something which is of serious concern and benefit to the public&quot;, not merely something of individual interest. It has also been held that public interest does not mean “of interest to the public” but “in the interest of the public” , i.e. it serves the interests of the public. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Requests <ul><li>If you want information from a Scottish Public Authority you must make your request in writing or in any form that can be kept for future use </li></ul><ul><li>if it costs the authority more than £100 to provide you with the information you have requested, you can be charged 10% of the cost.  So if the information cost £200, you could be charged £10.  </li></ul>
  9. 9. Subject <ul><li>You can ask for any kind of recorded information held by a Scottish public authority.  paper </li></ul><ul><li>computer files (including e-mail) </li></ul><ul><li>video </li></ul><ul><li>microfiche </li></ul><ul><li>You cannot ask for someone’s opinion that has not been put on record.   </li></ul><ul><li>Why decisions affecting local services were made? For example, why decisions were made to cut back some services at your local hospital, or to combine local primary schools? </li></ul><ul><li>How public authorities decide who gets priority on waiting lists for services such as health or housing? </li></ul><ul><li>What  Scottish public authority services are provided under contract? For example, the charges and conditions of a traffic warden service. </li></ul><ul><li>About studies carried out or considered before decisions are taken, e.g., on the safety of vaccines or medicines. </li></ul>
  10. 10. Timescales <ul><li>Response from public body within 20 days </li></ul><ul><li>Young people can also ask for information.  If you are under 12 years of age you may be asked to show that you understand what you are doing. </li></ul><ul><li>You do not have to give any reason for asking, although it may help the authority to give you the information you want if you can tell them what you are looking for and why. You also do not have to say that you are using your rights under Freedom of Information, but doing so may help the authority to respond appropriately. </li></ul><ul><li>You must give your name and a contact address (an email address is sufficient). If you do not provide a name or contact information, the authority does not have to respond to your request. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Other Refusals <ul><li>If the authority does not have the information you ask for, it should tell you so promptly by sending you a notice. </li></ul><ul><li>If it will cost the authority more than £600 to provide the information.  The authority must tell you what information it could provide within the cost limit of £600. </li></ul><ul><li>Vexatious requests are those that are clearly intended to disrupt the authority’s work, rather than genuine requests for information. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Internal Links <ul><li>GCU Publication Scheme </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Data Protection </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  13. 13. External Links <ul><li>Scottish Information Commissioner </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul><ul><li>Information Commissioners Office (E&W) </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>