Data Use and Misuse

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					                     Data Use and Misuse
All major supermarkets now have loyalty schemes:

   1. Give an example of a supermarket loyalty scheme.

   2. How does the scheme work?

   3. What are the advantages of loyalty schemes to the customers?

   4. What are the advantages to the supermarkets?

   5. What data does the supermarkets store on its customers?

James Wiggins (a true story)

In the US, James Russell Wiggins applied for and got a $70,000 post with a company in
Washington. A routine pre-employment check then revealed that he had been convicted
of possessing cocaine and he was fired the next day. Wiggins was shocked because he
knew that he had never had a criminal record.

Wiggins investigated and it turned out that the credit bureau, hired to do the background
check, had got him mixed up with someone called James Ray Wiggins, who was a drug
user. Even after this was discovered though, Wiggins didn’t get his job back.

The scary thing is that, if the background check had been made before Wiggins was
offered the job, he would never have been offered the job and he would not have been
told why. The information about the cocaine use would have remained on his file. For
the rest of his life, he could not have been offered a decent job. He would always have
struggled to get credit, insurance and a mortgage.

Because of the problems experienced by people like Mr Wiggins, we now have a law
called the “Data Protection Act.”
The Data Protection Act

      Data must be obtained lawfully
      Data must only be used for the purpose it is collected for
      Data must be accurate and up-to-date
      Computers holding the data must have proper security
      People have the right to see data kept on them

There are lots of exemptions from the Data Protection Act. For example, it does not
apply to the Inland Revenue and company payrolls. The Act only applies to computer-
based records, not those on paper. Data held for personal, family or recreational reasons
is exempt.

It is estimated that each person in the UK has their details entered on about 200
databases. It is important that people know their rights. You have the right:

      To compensation for inaccurate data or data which is disclosed without your
      To see data which is held on you
      To be compensated if you suffer any loss because of inaccurate data or data which
       is lost.

   1. Would you be breaking the law if you keep a personal address book?
   2. Would you be breaking the law if you transferred that address book onto a
   3. Would a plumber be breaking the law if he created a database of customers on his
      home PC?
   4. A chemist decides to keep a database of all prescriptions that are issued. You
      want to see what data they keep on you but they tell you that it is “confidential”.
      What could you do about this?
   5. When the chemist eventually decides to let you see your file, you discover that
      they, wrongly, have you listed as a registered drug addict. What could you do
      about this?

You can do further research at the following web site:


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