|★ APPLICATIONS ★ DIVERS ★ Data Protection ★|
|Data Protection|Popular Computing Weekly)||Applications Divers|
The Data Protection Act is in the process of being implemented and in the next few months all large organisations using computers to store personal information about individuals will be required to register with the Data Protection Registrar . . . Right?
Wrong! Under the strict terms of the act. anyone holding such informauon should register. and anyone contravening the act may find themselves facing a fine of up to £2000, or in some cases an unlimited fine! There are very few exemptions to the act and even a simple mailing list or membership list will not escape if it contains such information as occupation. home telephone number, date of birth, etc.
All right, most impressive, but what relevance does it have to the home computer user? In my own case using a computer to record patient details, the need for confidentiality are obvious, but what about the enthusiast who keeps a membership/mailing list for the local squash club or amateur dramatic society? Not very exciting information perhaps but it will probably contain at least a name and address, home, and perhaps work telephone numbers (and therefore a clue to occupation), and maybe even a date of birth. There are very few exemptions to registration. Quote: Personal data held by an individual and "concerned only with the management of his personal, family or household affairs or held by him only for recreational purposes". Such users are unconditionally exempt from registration.
Examples of conditional exemption include, Quote: "data held by unincorporated members clubs relating only to club members" and "data held for distribution of articles or information to the data subjects and consisting only of their names and addresses". Note, these last two are examples of conditional exemption. The data subjects concerned must be consulted as to whether they object to the information being kept and must be consulted before any data is disclosed.
And now my own own small contribuuon to data protection. The following program, designed for use with a disc drive, will scramble ASCII text or program files, including Tasword files, and will cope with most files containing mixed numeric and string data produced by the Amstrad (not Masterfile files unfortunately, as these are in binary format). It accepts a code word of any length (letters only, these are converted to upper case for processing) and for the more paranoid this need not appear on screen. Then the ASCII value of each letter in turn is added to that of successive characters in the data file cycling repeatedly through the codeword until the whole file is scrambled. To unscramble the process is reversed. Written in Basic, the scrambling process takes a short while to complete, but any number of files can be selected for sequential processing.