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More than half of Computer Weekly’s readers are not prepared for the new Data Protection Act or are in the dark about the new legislation.
Only 44% of IT managers answering the Computer Weekly/Harvey Nash Big Question believed they were adequately prepared for the new legislation, which comes into force on 1 March. Some 37% said they were not prepared for it, while 19% said they did not know if they were prepared for the act.
The 1998 Data Protection Act is more stringent than its predecessor. It covers paper-based as well as computer records, has a broader definition of processing, scrutinises the necessity of keeping personal data, and makes special provision for sensitive data. In addition, it stipulates that IT departments make provisions to prevent hacking and loss of data through system crashes.
Businesses failing to register under the new act are committing a criminal offence. Individuals can seek compensation, with no precedent set for damages.
One IT manager told Computer Weekly: “I have not even had time to look at it.” Another criticised the Data Protection Registrar for failing to give businesses enough guidance on the new act.
An IT manager who is ready for the Act said it had taken six months to complete a review of his systems in light of the new law.