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The Credit Services Association (CSA)
A letter from the Information Commissioner's Office
A message from the Information Commissioner's Office:
As you will be aware, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has responsibility for promoting and enforcing the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA) and related legislation. We are independent from government and promote access to official information and the protection of personal information.
We are writing to stakeholders across various sectors to raise awareness of an upcoming change to the DPA. On 10 March 2015, section 56 of the DPA will come into force. Section 56 makes it a criminal offence to require an individual to exercise their subject access rights (under section 7 of the DPA) to gain access to information about their convictions and cautions and provide that information to a person. This practice is commonly referred to as enforced subject access and may be used, for example, to provide supporting evidence regarding a job application or before entering into a contract for goods, facilities or services.
We have been advocating the commencement of section 56 for many years to address a growing concern in the number of organisations seeking to circumvent the established criminal records regime by requiring an individual to use their subject access rights in this manner. Following changes to the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, the Minister of State for Justice announced this commencement last year. The date for commencement is 10 March and there will be no transition period. The ICO will therefore be considering prosecutions for breaches from this date.
In order to help organisations prepare for commencement, we have produced comprehensive guidance on what activity section 56 covers and how we interpret various terms in the legislation. We would be grateful if you would encourage your members to read the guidance available on our website at https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/enforced-sar and review any policies and procedures they have that may involve enforced subject access to ensure that these do not breach section 56.
If you have any questions, please call our helpline on 0303 123 1113 who will be happy to answer these as fully as possible.