There are three legal documents that you should be aware of when you work with computers and information. These are:
Computers are used everywhere from newspaper offices to schools, from government departments to small businesses. Computers are machines used to process information and more and more this information is about us.
It is frightening when you think of the amount of information that strangers hold about you. And what if some of the information they stored about you was wrong?
The Data Protection Act was introduced in 1984 to ensure that Data Users (the people who keep the information on computer) gave rights to individuals (Data Subjects) who have information recorded about them on computer.
The Data Subjects may
Data Users now must register with the Data Protection Register if they wish to hold personal information about data subjects.
There are some types of data that are exempt from Registration,
The act states that data should:
Your rights under the Data Protection Act
An individual is entitled, on making a written request, to be supplied by any Data User with a copy of any personal data held about him or her. The Data User may charge a fee up to ten pounds for supplying this information.
Correction or deletion
If personal data is inaccurate the Data Subject may complain to the Registrar or apply to the courts for correction or deletion of the data.
A Data Subject is entitled to seek compensation through the courts if damage has been caused by the loss, unauthorised destruction or the unauthorised disclosure of the personal data. If damage is proved, then the Court may also order compensation for any associated distress caused to the Data Subject.
Also a Data Subject may seek compensation through the Courts for damage caused by inaccurate data.
Complaint to the Registrar
A Data Subject who considers that some part of the act has been broken can complain to the Registrar. The Registrar must investigate the complaint and deal with it appropriately, either by informally sorting out the problem or by prosecuting the Data User under the terms of the Act.
Answer the following questions relating to the Data Protection Act. Click here.
Test your knowledge about the Data Protection Act - click here.
More information can be found at http://www.ico.gov.uk/what_we_cover/data_protection.aspxr
The Computer Misuse Act (1990) provides regulations that govern theaccess to and use of computer systems and the information within them.
Section 1 of the act can be summarised by stating that it is an offence to gain unauthorised access to a computer system. This includes causing a computer to perform a function with intent to secure access to any program or data, knowing that the access is unauthorised.
Note that this is an offence regardless of whether the motives for access were well-meaning or malicious. Access to any program or data held in a computer system is a wide definition and includes altering/erasing the program or data, copying it, moving it, using it and having it output from the computer in which it is held.
Examples of such offences could include unauthorised use of another person’s username and password (hacking), persistently trying to guess a username and password, and laying a trap to obtain a password or password file.
Section 3 of the Computer Misuse Act 1990 states that it is an offence to cause unauthorised modification of computer material.
Examples of offences under this section would be deleting another user’s files, modifying system files, introduction of viruses, or deliberately generating information to cause a complete system malfunction.
The Act also states that on a charge of attempting to commit an offence as outlined above, it is immaterial to the accused’s guilt where the attempt to gain unauthorised access was made.
Answer the following questions relating to the Computer Misuse Act. Click here.
More information can be found at http://www.lancs.ac.uk/iss/rules/cmisuse.htm
Test you knoledge on Computer Misuse Act - click here.
Most published material (including text, images, video, music etc) is protected by the Copyright, Design and Patents Act 1988. This means that there are restrictions to the use you can make of such material, particularly in respect of copying, selling and adapting it. Copyright may be infringed if, without the prior permission of the copyright owner, you:
If you do any of these without permission, you are liable to be held personally responsible. Infringing the law may be a criminal offence.
Copying, without prior permission.
As an individual you may take advantage of the ‘fair dealing’ provisions of the Act to make a single photocopy for research or private study, within the following limits:
This means that it may be acceptable to copy a certain portion of a copyright work for your own use.
Duration of rights
1. For literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works
70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.
The Copyright (Computer Programs) Regulations 1992 extended the rules covering literary works to include computer programs.
2. Sound Recordings and broadcasts
50 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last remaining author of the work dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised release, performance, broadcast, etc.
70 years from the end of the calendar year in which the last principal director, author or composer dies, or the work is made available to the public, by authorised performance, broadcast, exhibition, etc.
4. Typographical arrangement of published editions
25 years from the end of the calendar year in which the work was first published.
Types of work covered
Song lyrics, manuscripts, manuals, computer programs, commercial documents, leaflets, newsletters and articles etc.
Plays, dance, etc.
Recordings and score.
Photography, painting, architecture, technical drawings/diagrams, maps, logos, etc.
5. Typographical arrangement of published editions
Magazines, periodicals, etc.
6. Sound recordings
May be recordings of works, e.g. musical and literary.
Broadcasts and cable programmes.
More information can be found at http://www.copyrightservice.co.uk/copyright/uk_law_summary