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Computer legislation



The Data Protection Act 1998

This act states that personal data…

  1. ...must be processed fairly and lawfully

  2. ...must be adequate, relevant and not excessive

  3. ...must be accurate and up to date

  4. ...must not be held onto for longer than necessary

  5. ...can only be used for the purpose for which it was collected

  6. ...must be kept secure

  7. ...must be handled in accordance with people’s rights

  8. ...must not be transferred outside the EU without adequate protection

This act ensures that when your data is collected or kept by certain parties, it is used safely and only for necessary reasons with your permission. It also makes sure that your data is stored securely and not passed on to others without your permission.


The Freedom of Information Act 2000

This was a new law passed to give people access to data held by public authorities such as local authorities and the NHS. For example, this means that people can ask for a list of all the state schools in a certain area.

However, it does not give access to personal data about people, ensuring that people’s personal data remains private and safe.


The Computer Misuse Act 1990

This comprises three main principles, mainly to prevent unauthorised access of programs or data. The following offences are recognised by this act:

Unauthorised access to computer material

Unauthorised access with intent to commit or facilitate a crime

Unauthorised modification of computer material

‘Hacking’ of data would also fall under this act and therefore hackers would be punished accordingly.


The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988

This act protects the creators of books, music, video and software from having their work illegally copied. Therefore, it is illegal to use, copy or distribute commercially available software without buying the appropriate licence.

If you pay to download a piece of software, or music etc., it is illegal to pass a copy to a friend, make a copy and then sell it, or use the software on a network unless the licence allows it.

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