Data Protection Act breach Reporting // IT Management Solutions

Data Protection Act breach Reporting

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The Data Protection Commissioner has approved a personal data security breach Code of Practice to help organisations to react appropriately when they become aware of breaches of security involving customer or employee personal information. ?In the public sector, guidance from the Department of Finance on data security also advises departments and agencies to report data breaches immediately to this Office.??The Code of Practice does not apply to providers of publicly available electronic communications networks or services. This is because the European Communities (Electronic Communications Networks and Services) (Privacy and Electronic Communications) Regulations 2011 (SI 336 of 2011) place specific obligations on providers of publicly available electronic communications networks or services to safeguard the security of their services. These obligations are dealt with separately below.

Applying the Personal Data Security Breach Code of Practice

Organisations confronted with a breach of security affecting personal data should study the Code of Practice carefully. Some key considerations in relation to the application of the terms of the Code are set out below. The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner will be happy to offer further advice to organisations about how best to apply the terms of the Code. Contact details for the Office are set out at the end of this guidance note.

Paragraph one of the Code of Practice sets out the legal obligation to process personal data fairly and to take appropriate security measures to protect it.

Paragraph two refers to the need to focus on the rights of data subjects where their personal data has been put at risk.

Paragraph three states that data controllers who have experienced an incident giving rise to a risk of unauthorised disclosure, loss, destruction or alteration of personal data must give immediate consideration to notifying the affected data subjects. As the Code states, "this permits data subjects to consider the consequences for each of them individually and to take appropriate measures." The consequences may include the potential for fraud / identity theft, but it may also involve the potential for damage to reputation, public humiliation or even threats to physical safety. The Data Protection Acts give individuals the right to exercise control over how their data is used. A breach of personal data security may compromise that right. Notifying data subjects is a remedial measure intended to redress the balance and restore some measure of knowledge and control.

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