In many countries around the world, there is a general law that
governs the collection, use and dissemination of personal
information by both the public and private sectors. An ombudsman then ensures compliance.
The BBC revision guide gives a nice
summary of what is meant by Personal data in this context. What
is personal data?
This is the preferred model for most
countries adopting data protection laws. It was the approach adopted by the
European Union (EU) to ensure compliance with its data protection regime.
UK legislation is based on the EU Directive 95/46/EC, which you can also
take a look at by clicking on the link to the left.
In the UK, the
ombudsman is known as the Information Commissioner and their web site
gives you a lot of information about Data Protection. It
Take a look at his web site and notice it covers more than just Data
Protection. But that is another lesson.
Data protection can also be achieved, at least in theory, through
various forms of self-regulation, in which companies and industry bodies
establish codes of practice and engage in self-policing. In the US
this model is followed, and an organisation called Truste
is helping companies to police themselves and promote good practice to
build trust with Internet users.