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Computer Legislation

Introduction Video


Data Protection Act 1998

  • Controls the processing of personal data
  • Protects the rights of data subjects
  • Those organisations who break the rules may be liable to fines
  • Some types of sensitive data is given extra protection (e.g. Medical information, sexual orientation, criminal history, ethnic background)

Must make sure the information is:

  • used fairly, lawfully and transparently
  • used for specified, explicit purposes
  • used in a way that is adequate, relevant and limited to only what is necessary
  • accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • kept for no longer than is necessary
  • handled in a way that ensures appropriate security, including protection against unlawful or unauthorised processing, access, loss, destruction or damage


Computer Misuse Act 1990

Makes the unauthorized access to computer systems illegal. Covers blackmail, fraud, hacking, viruses, etc.

4 levels of offence, with different punishment.

  • Unauthorized access to computer material – up t 6 months in prison / £5,000 fine
  • Unauthorized access to computer material with intent to commit a further offence – 5 year prison sentence and unlimited fine.
  • Unauthorized modification of data  – 5 year sentence and unlimited fine
  • Making, supplying or obtaining anything which can be used in computer misuse offences. –  10 year prison sentence an unlimited fine


Copyright Design and Patents Act 1988

Illegal to copy, modify or distribute software , music, video or other intellectual property  without permission from the author

  • Designed to ensure that people are fairly rewarded for their artistic work
  • Protects rights holders if their work is stolen.


Freedom of Information Act 2000

  • Provides public access to information held by public authorities
  • Members of the public can request information held by public bodies and authorities have to publish the data within a specified deadline