government deparments selling personal information

  Midsman2005 14:08 28 Mar 2008

Hello forum,

This is a bit off topic I know. But as most information is electronic these days its not that far off topic...and you are all an educated bunch so I am sure you will know.

Is it possible, under the freedom of information act, to ask government departments who has obtained my personal information from them?

Just wondered if anybody had ever tried this.


  lofty29 14:24 28 Mar 2008

They will probably tell you that it would infringe the data protection act, regardless of the fact that they sell this information on

  Midsman2005 14:31 28 Mar 2008

Yes thats pretty much what I thought.

If this is the way it is it's very strange how they can sell your personal info on...but when you want to know who has bought/obtained your personal info they won't tell you saying its against the data protection act.

It all seems very contradictory to me!...unless I am missing something :-?

  xania 15:35 28 Mar 2008

I'd be most surprised if it were a breach of the DPA. The Act only protects the rights of the individual - not companies. So you should be able to obtian details of all companies, including individuals who are acting as companies, but you may not be able to obtian details of any provate individuals. However, if you really want to be absolutely clear, you should get it right from the horse's mouth click here

  Midsman2005 15:38 28 Mar 2008

Thanks for the link.

I have emailed them asking if it can be done.

I'll let everyone know what they say as it seems other people have an interest in this.


  Forum Editor 17:26 28 Mar 2008

does not provide you with the right of access to information about yourself - that's availlable under the 1988 Data Protection Act, and even then it's subject to certain restrictions/exemptions.

If I run a website on which people are required to register I may sell generic information to anyone, provided it doesn't enable the third party to identify you personally. In other words, I could sell a database that contains the information that x% of the people who registered are over 35, y% live in Southern England, z% visit pubs regularly, etc., etc.

You would not be entitled to request that I tell you who I sell the data to, because it doesn't identify you individually. The same applies to the government - it isn't going to sell someone your name and address, because it's not allowed to do so under the terms of the data protection act - unless you give your consent first.

That's why you'll get no response under the Freedom of Information Act - there's no information to give.

  wjrt 18:37 28 Mar 2008

what about this lot selling names and addresses etc to dodgy parking companies then .they say there is no problem with them doing it

  Forum Editor 21:43 28 Mar 2008

They (The DVLA) may say what they like, but as far as I'm concerned they are acting illegally if they supply a driver's name and home address without due cause.

There are agencies which may be justified in seeking the name and address of the registered keeper of a vehicle - local authorities may do it in order to issue fines for traffic offences, for instance.

  MaxUpload 07:42 29 Mar 2008

This is very interesting!

When filling in any forms whether by hand or online I am always very careful to tick or untick the boxes that ask whether I would like to receive information from...etc.

Recently I had my sixtieth birthday.

What the FE is saying about "selling generic information to anyone provided it doesn't enable the third party to identify you personally" doesn't ring true when all of a sudden I am being bombarded with all sorts of junk [sic] offering services and products "beneficial to me" as a senior citizen and all addressed to me by name!

My only crime - filling in a bus pass application form and returning it to my local council offices.

Data Protection Act?

  Forum Editor 08:52 29 Mar 2008

There's no doubt whatsoever that some commercial organisations get hold of information that is classed as 'personal data' under the terms of the Data Protection Act.

How they do it is not often so easy to discover, but they do it. Almost all of us will at some time received a sudden wave of personally addressed junk mail that seems to coincide with the recent completion of some form or another, and yet we clearly remember ticking (or unticking) the relevant consent box.

In my opinion the threat to our personal privacy has increased in recent years, despite the so-called protection offered by the act. The reason is pretty obvious - the Information Commissioner is a relatively toothless tiger, and everyone knows it. A citizen's right to privacy should be one of the first priorities of a society that styles itself a democracy, yet government repeatedly demonstrates a lack of determination to tackle the subject. There's lots of lip-service from Ministers, and plenty of "There are lessons to be learned from this" statements each time another horrendous data leak is revealed, but that falls far short of the mark in my book.

Personal data privacy is a particular interest of mine, and I would just love to have an hour of the Prime Minsiter's time on the matter.

  Forum Editor 08:53 29 Mar 2008

What's a Minsiter?

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