I am going to investigate different legislations that affect the use of ICT, and look at how they affect in particular the people that I have studied in unit 3, I will consider what they have to do to abide by the law, how the piece of legislation protects them and how and what impact it has upon them.
Since the introduction of the new technologies, new problems have been created, to tackle these problems certain legislation has been introduced, to allow protection for companies and individuals and to give authorities the power to combat the problems and misuses and where applicable make arrests.
Data Protection Act of 1998
As the amount of information about people and their lifestyles held on computers increased, a need became apparent to control the way in that it was collected and stored, the previous ability to access large databases of information led to the introduction of the Data protection act.
The data protection act is made up of eight different principles, these are the different points of the law that state what can and can’t be done with regards to data, the eight principles are;
– Data must not be acquired and processed unless there is a lawful reason to do so.
– Data must be processed within the rights of the person supplying the data.
– Data must only be used for specific lawful purposes.
– Personal data must be accurate and up-to-date.
– Provision must be made for the correction of data held.
– Suitable measure should be taken to ensure the safety of personal data.
– Data held should be the minimum required for the purpose and should not be kept longer than is reasonable.
– Data is not to be transferred to countries outside the European Economic Area.
The above principles are in place to protect the British Public, the government passed the law with the interest of the public at heart, after rising concern when there was an increase in the amount of data that was stored about people.
This particular legislation is most applicable and relevant to Mr. Clements, the person I studied in Unit 3B, because he is responsible for a vast amount of data stored about clients, this data includes a range of things from home address to telephone number and from occupation to bank account details. What ever it may be Mr. Clements has access to a lot of data, because of this situation there is a need for both the data and Mr. Clements to be protected.
For Mr. Clements to stay within and abide by the data protection act, he must consider certain things when handling data, Askews solicitors has a strict policy in place to protect both themselves and their clients, clients sign a disclaimer which sets out the rights that they as customers have and what the solicitors must do.
It creates more paperwork, and takes longer to process information but in the long run it means to an extent that customer will have no unnecessary information stored about them, and it also means that what is stored about them is protected. All files that contain customer information and details are encrypted which means that no unauthorised person can access it, also all information is reviewed after one year after the clients case has been resolved, anything unnecessary will be deleted. There is only Derek who can access his client’s information which means that in the event of a breach of the act he would be held responsible. Clients are given the right to access all information that is stored about them and it can be changed if there are any mistakes.
The data protection act gives a statutory responsibility to Mr. Clements for the storing of clients information, this means that the clients should have the assurance that their information is kept secure, the law means that any breach if the law would either result in hefty fines or imprisonment, however the extent that individuals or holders of information are protect is often limited, even with the law in place it is often difficult for somebody to prove that a breach has occurred, an example of this would be selling data to a 3rd party without the owners consent, yes the company has broken the law, but is often hard for the person who has had their information sold to realise this has happened, and it is also difficult to prove that the company has sold the information, investigations of this nature often take years to result in prosecutions whilst the evidence is gathered, this says to me that the Data Protection act does not give full protection to individuals or groups.
To improve the overall impact and effect of the Data protection act there is a need for tighter protocols to be introduced and for easier ways of tracking that criminal offences have been committed. A way that the impact could be improved is through a means of logging data movement, for example a computer file could be tracked to see if it is being sold or transported to another country or organisation, this would mean that it would be easier to prove that crimes have been committed leading to an increase in the levels of prosecution. Without any changes to the act there will be a minority of individuals who are having there personal information sold and used inappropriately without their knowledge, meaning that the law is not having a great enough impact.
The Data Protection Act is working for Mr. Clements. The law is having a massive impact on his working style and his working routines. Everything that Mr. Clements does, he has to take into consideration the law, logging exactly what data is being used and who it is being given to. Because Mr. Clements is a solicitor, he knows that he has to follow the law, and that if he didn’t, there would be severe consequences, e.g. loose his job along with the law society banning him from practicing as a solicitor. Because the impact that the law is having upon Mr. Clements, there is not much that could be improved to increase the overall impact.
Copyright, Designs and Patent Act 1988
The copyright and patents act makes it a criminal offence to copy or steal software, images and other such things. The Act helps to protect the money that the artist, developer or company makes from the sale of the item, it takes a long time and a lot of effort to create the pieces of media so it is right that the correct person gets the credit, the copyright and patent act helps to do this.
This particular piece of legislation covers and protects the rights of individuals or groups who produce new material, this means that before somebody else’s materials can be used, prior permission must be obtained, in some instances the rights of the material may be given up by making it freely available to the public.
This Act has now existed for 18 years, but has over this period been updated to cover electronic communications, ensuring that people who make their material available over the internet are protected. Any breaches of copyright are known as ‘Copyright infringements’.
This particular legislation is most applicable and relevant to me, because on a regular basis I download music tracks from the internet, copy tracks from friends and my own CD’s, I also take material from the internet and use it within my own pieces of work.
So that I can stay within the law I must consider several points, these being, if I want to use somebody’s piece of work within my own I must notify them and gain their prior permission, I cannot claim that the piece is my own and I cannot copy anything and circulate it without the prior permission. If I follow these guidelines I can be assured that I stay within the law.
Although there are certain guidelines for using and copying other peoples work, it is often the case that the law does not give full protection to the individual who owns it, often people ignore these guidelines and copy the piece of work anyway, without gaining the prior permission of he owner, personally I follow this pattern, it takes time to notify and ask or prior permission, it is much easier to simply take the piece incorporate it where necessary add credits at the bottom of the work, for this reason it is apparent that individuals who own the copyrights for pieces of work are not protected to a full extent.
To improve the overall impact and effect of the Copyright, designs and Patent Act, certain improvements need to be made to ensure that individuals are protected, these improvements could include harsher prosecutions including imprisonment, and the ability to prevent people to copy sources directly from a site, making it more difficult to extract images etc. into pieces of work. The government need to change this legislation to ensure that the impact of it is much greater, it also needs to be made easier for prosecutions to be made improving the current ways of evidence being presented in front of the police.
The Copyright, Designs and Patent Act isn’t working for me. The law is unclear, and I don’t know exactly what I can and can’t do within the law. Because the law is unclear it isn’t having a very big impact upon me. When I use limewire I am not given any warning that I can’t download any music or other media without the appropriate license, and that if I do download any media I am breaking the law. The law isn’t very clear, and because of this it isn’t having much an impact upon my life when using ICT and the internet. To improve the impact that the law is having upon me it needs to be much clearer, setting out in simple terms exactly what I can and can’t do.
Health and Safety at work act 1974
The health and safety at work act was first introduced and made a law in 1974 to protect workers, however this original Act did not take into effect the use of computers, this was changed in 1992 when new Health and safety regulations were brought into effect.
The health and safety at work act is in place to over the health, safety and welfare of any person at work, it also protects against any apparent risks to health or safety in connection with the activities of persons at work. Both employees and employers have a great degree of responsibility to ensure that the workplace complies with health and safety, reducing any risks to an absolute minimum, this will help to ensure that nobody is put at risk.
The health and safety at work act has been around for a long time, well over 100 years. It allows the workforce to be protected whilst at work preventing them from being put at any risk or faced with a dangerous situation. Even today with the many safety risks accounted for there are still jobs which include hazardous operations carried out in the workplace, however this act means that any such thing should still be carried out and undertaken as safely as possible or if not, not at all.
This particular legislation is most applicable and relevant to Mr. Wojcik because he is faced with an office and school situation almost on a daily basis, involving the use of computers and sitting at a desk. Mr. Wojcik knows that he has certain rights within the workplace, and his employer has certain duties, it is their responsibility to provide Mr. Wojcik with all necessary pieces of equipment, i.e. foot rest, height adjustable chair, display screen to cover computer screen to reduce the brightness and contrast.
So that Mr. Wojcik is protected by the law he must consider certain points, he knows that a risk assessment must be made for each workstation, problems may include the type of chair, glare from the sun onto computer monitors possible causing eye strain, or the desk may be to high or low. He knows that any work that is to under carry must be planned with breaks built into it. It is the responsibility of Mr. Wojcik’s company to provide an eye test if required, it is often common that eye strain is caused by working at the computer for long periods of time or having glare from the sun shining onto his screen making it harder for his eyes to interpret what is before him.
So that Mr. Wojcik knew what he had to do, his workplace sent him on a health and safety training course, if he believes he is unsure of something it is his right to demand another course, ensuring that he is to be protected in his workplace. So that Mr. Wojcik is protected by the law he must regularly undergo and health and safety at work review, he informs his line manager of any needs, an example of this might be that he asks for a footrest, it is then the responsibility of his employee to act upon his request, if however this request is not met, Mr. Wojcik could go to a tribunal or to court and saw the company, this is in place to ensure that the employee’s are protected in the event of a breaking of the law, but companies often comply with requests to avoid litigation.
The Health and safety at work act allows employees to have certain rights, it also gives the employer a statutory need and responsibility to act upon any work related health and safety concern that an employee may have, this means that in reality an employee should remain safe and healthy whilst at work, there are certain protocols in place in the event of a breaking of the law, so anybody would think that employees can go to work and know that they will be able to go home and have no problems what so ever, however this is not the case, often because of a lack of communication employees need to go on the sick for stress related illness, eye strain, back injuries and so on, this shows that there is a minority of employees that are not protected, this means that the health and safety at work act does not give employees the full protection that they require, there are still individuals that are not protected because of these so called break downs of communication, this means that there is room for improvement to ensure that the element of unprotected employees are.
To improve the overall impact and effect of the health and safety at work act, certain improvements need to be made, these can be quite simple, company’s could draft into their employees contracts a responsibility to ensure that they inform a senior member of staff of any need or possible infringement of their rights. The employer should also be forced to take the statutory responsibility more serious, bigger penalties and punishments should be introduced to deter organisations spending a small amount of money to ensure the welfare and safety of its employees. It should also be made compulsory that every year every member of staff has to attend a health and safety training course to ensure that staff and kept up to date with procedures, protocols and rights, this would mean that the impact and extent of the law would be far greater.
The Health and Safety at work act is working for Mr. Wojcik, therefore it is having quite a big impact upon his life at work. However, Mr. Wojcik is outspoken, so if he wants or needs something he will ask and he will get it with no problems, so the law is having quite a big impact upon him. However Mr. Wojcik feels for someone who is quiet it wouldn’t have any impact because the employer would be unaware that the employee needed something. To improve the impact that the law is having upon Mr. Wojcik there could be a checklist brought in which includes everything that is covered by the law, so then Mr. Wojcik could check against the list to see if there is anything that he hasn’t got, increasing the overall impact.
Regulation of investigatory powers act 2000
In certain circumstances it is necessary for the authorities, including the police, customs and excise or MI5 to intercept communications and or collect evidence for the purposes of fighting crime or national security. In order for such authorities to undertake such activities they need to have a power, this power is created and obtained from the Regulation of investigatory powers act of 2000.
This act covers both the lawful and unlawful interception of communications, these being post, telephone or internet, this law makes does give permission to certain authorities, as mentioned within the above paragraph, but it does also make it illegal for anybody other than the intended recipient to read other peoples post or email, or intercept and listen to phone calls, without the appropriate prior permission. Electronic communications, including email are relatively easy to intercept, the Regulation of investigatory powers act 2000 clearly states exactly who does or doesn’t have the appropriate permission to intercept any form of communication.
This particular legislation is most applicable and relevant to CCTV in the community, because of the need to run undercover operations including the placing of CCTV cameras in secret places, without giving prior notice to residents in the area who could leak information to other people and spoil the operation.
To ensure that the authorities and organisations stay within the law they need to abide by the route to seeking an order to impose on a certain location, they must apply through the courts to gain a court order that will ensure that any installation of CCTV for an under cover operation will be kept secret, they must not cut corners or just presume that they have the profound right to invade an area and install cameras illegally, they must seek the appropriate court order, ensuring that they abide by the law.
The extent to which this piece of legislation ensures secrecy is often quite high, however now with the freedom of information act individuals are challenging court orders, in some cases taking the authorities to court to gain information which in some cases they are legally entitled to view, there is an apparent need to ensure that information is kept secret and restricted ensuring that such operations are covered to an extent which is almost full, ensuring that the impact is maximum.
To improve the overall impact and effect of the Regulation of investigatory powers act, the process in which authorities have to undergo should be made easier and quicker, at the present moment in time it can take days and even weeks to gain the court order to allow them to install cameras for an undercover operation, this however can often be to late for some cases as people move on and an element of surprise is required, the longer that it takes to gain the court order the more likely it is that the criminal activity will move on, because of either a risk factor or through them finding out about the proposed operations. These improvements would improve the overall effectiveness and impact that the regulation of investigatory powers act would have.