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WSU has to make sure that it complies with all UK legislation regarding computer use and information security. Some of this legislation is related to employment situations, while some is for more general computer usage. You should be aware of the key Acts below to ensure that you don’t behave inappropriately or break the law while using WSU facilities. Ignorance is no defence as far as the law is concerned!
The Data Protection Act regulates the use of personal data by organisations. Personal data is defined as information relating to a living, identifiable individual. The Act has eight guiding principles which are covered in the WSU Data Protection Policy.
The Freedom of Information Act gives individuals a right of access to information held by public bodies, subject to a number of exemptions. It is important to note that, while WSU is not subject to this Act as it is not a public body, we do sometimes still receive requests for information in writing (email, letter or fax). Each request is considered carefully so as not to put our activities or staff at risk by disclosing information inappropriately. The WSU Records Retention Policy provides further information on how FOI are to be handled.
RIPA regulates the powers of public bodies to carry out surveillance and investigation and also deals with the interception of communications. The Home Office offers guidance and codes of practice relating to RIPA.
The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (CDPA) defines and regulates copyright law in the UK. CDPA categorises the different types of works that are protected by copyright, including:
For any staff members or students who are facing issues or have questions relating to this Act and their activities, please seek appropriate advice for the relevant Sabbatical Officer (for students) or Line Manager (for staff) before acting, as the penalties can be significant.
The Computer Misuse Act is intended to deter criminals from using a computer to commit criminal offences or from impairing or hindering access to data stored in a computer.
The Act contains three criminal offences for computer misuse:
The Human Rights Act puts the rights set out in the 1953 European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Article 8, relating to privacy, is of most relevance to information security – it provides a right to respect for an individual’s “private and family life, his home and his correspondence”, a right that is also embedded within the Data Protection Act.
The Limitation Act is a statute of limitations providing legal timescales within which action may be taken for breaches of the law (for example, six years is the period in which an individual has the opportunity to bring an action for breach of contract). These statutory retention periods inform parts of WSU’s Records Retention policy.