data protection

n.The legal protection of personal information that organizations hold in electronic format.


Although the United States has legislation controlling the use of personal data by the government, it does not have laws controlling the use of personal information collected by organizations or individuals. For more information on relevant laws in Europe, see Directive 97/66/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union, 15 December 1997, 'concerning the processing of personal data and the protection of privacy in the telecommunications sector.' The European laws may affect multinational corporations doing business there.


Illingworth 1996, p. 126 The aim of the legislation is to control the immense potential for misuse of information that arises when personal data is stored in computers. . . . To combat the fear of misuse of data, governments have introduced legislation that, among other things, makes the following requirements of organizations that maintain personal records on computers: to declare and/or register the use for which the data is stored; to provide the data subject with a right of access to data concerning himself or herself on their computer; to maintain a prescribed minimum level of electronic and physical security in their computer installation; not to transmit personal data to any organization that does not have similar controls over misuse of data.