Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Law on Data under Attack

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Law on Data under Attack

Article excerpt

Byline: By Mark Evans Watson Burton

In recent months the Data Protection Act 1998 has been attacked from all sides.

It has been accused of allowing Ian Huntley to take a job as a school caretaker, allowing him to come into contact with and murder Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman. It has also been blamed for causing the deaths of an elderly couple whose gas was cut off without any notification to social services.

In the Soham case, David Westwood, Chief Constable of Humberside Police, claimed that it had prevented officers from keeping records of nine previous allegations of sexual offences by Huntley.

British Gas claimed the Act prevented them from passing on details of the elderly couple's unpaid bill to social services.

The couple died from hypothermia after their gas supply was cut off.

Both of these incidents generated many headlines condemning the Act, though both cases could have easily fallen within categories exempting the data from destruction in Soham and allowing information to be communicated to social services in the British Gas incident. …

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