Social networking sites, online forums and the application of the Data Protection Act

Social networking sites, online forums and the application of the Data Protection Act

What is the legal status of those running social networking sites and online forums and which exemptions apply under the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998)?

When does the ‘domestic purposes’ exemption apply?

The DPA 1998, s 36 provides an important exemption to the application of the data protection principles under the Act. It applies when personal data is processed by an individual for their own personal purposes.

Whilst this covers many individuals using social networking sites, new guidance from the ICO makes it clear that businesses or organisations that use social media do not fall within the exemption and continue to have responsibilities under the DPA 1998. The guidance clarifies that this is still the case even if an organisation gets a member of its staff to do the processing for it through their personal networking page.

The crucial analysis is whether the processing is for the organisation’s purposes or the purposes of the individual’s personal, family or household affairs. As ever, the distinction blurs where the organisation consists of, for example, groups of friends or is a recreational club but the guidance provides useful examples of the ICO’s thinking on different scenarios.

When is a person or organisation running the site a data controller and what are their responsibilities?

Obligations under the DPA 1998 fall upon the data controller. The guidance provides some useful insight into the applicability of the DPA 1998 to those running sites onto

Subscription Form

Already a subscriber? Login
RELX (UK) Limited, trading as LexisNexis, and our LexisNexis Legal & Professional group companies will contact you to confirm your email address. You can manage your communication preferences via our Preference Centre. You can learn more about how we handle your personal data and your rights by reviewing our  Privacy Policy.

Related Articles:
Latest Articles:

Access this article and thousands of others like it free by subscribing to our blog.

Read full article

Already a subscriber? Login