How to find out what data an organisation holds – use the Data Protection Register

Data Protection Act

Here’s a useful tip if you’re thinking of requesting information from an organisation – or just looking for ideas: check the Data Protection Register first.

All organisations who collect data must register with the Information Commissioner’s Office. A copy of the public register is available to search on their website.

You can search by name, address, postcode or registration number. Unfortunately the site only works when there are fewer than 100 results, so a search for entries with an address in ‘London’ doesn’t work. But a search for names including ‘Airport’, for example, does.

Some points to bear in mind if you are using the register to come up with ideas:

  • Personal data or data that identifies individuals is largely exempt from the Freedom of Information Act (well known exemptions include senior salary bands) so make sure you exclude that from any request if it’s not relevant.
  • You can only use the Data Protection Act to request information about yourself.
  • The Freedom of Information Act will not apply to non-public organisations in the register.
  • But the Environmental Information Regulations may do, if your request relates to environmental issues (and is “carrying out public functions or is in some way under the control of an FOI public body” – thanks Tim in the comments).

2 thoughts on “How to find out what data an organisation holds – use the Data Protection Register

  1. Tim Turner

    The EIRs are only going to apply to a non-public organisation if that organisation is carrying out public functions or is in some way (sometimes distantly) under the control of an FOI public body and has some kind of environmental responsibilities. A purely private organisation with no links to the public sector will have no EIR responsibilities at all.

    Reply

Leave a Reply to paulbradshaw Cancel reply