Does the Data Protection Act apply to paper based files?

Absolutely, the Data Protection Act is based around eight principles of good information handling. They give people specific rights in relation to their personal information and put obligations on those responsible for processing it. The key word is processing and this can be automatic or manual processing, for example within a filing system. There are two other types of processing (automatic or manual) that are covered , one is a where the information forms part of an accessible record and the other is where data is recorded by a Public Authority.

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