8 Sep 2004

What is it?
The website of the Data Protection Commissioner, which protects the right to privacy in accordance with the Data Protection Acts of 1988 and 2003.

What information does it contain?
The site is divided into a series of sections, accessible from a menu bar at the top of the page. The sections variously explain the exact role of the Data Protection Commissioner, as well as informing members of the public what their rights are or telling businesses about the legal responsibilities involved in keeping personal data on customers. This section extensively outlines the rules and obligations to abide by if an organisation gathers and stores personal information about others. There are contact forms and further reference texts are available online.

Who is it for?

It caters both to individuals and to organisations that keep information about others.

How does it look?

Businesslike, if dull. The layout and for that matter much of the content has changed little in the past number of months but its function is more as an information resource than a dynamic news-driven site. Nonetheless, an updates section is included.

Any quibbles?

Some of the language can veer towards legalese – maybe not surprisingly given the origins of the Commissioner’s office – but it’s worth persevering with.

The verdict?

Recommended reading; many people are unaware of what rights they have as to how their personal data is used by others. You will come away from this site knowing more than when you got there. Some businesses may also be in for a rude awakening as far as knowing their own obligations in this area.

By Gordon Smith