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How Does Digitisation Affect Data Protection Duties?

data protection

How Does Digitisation Affect Data Protection Duties?

The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is defined as ‘an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which defines UK law on the processing of data on identifiable living people. It is the main piece of legislation that governs the protection of personal data in the UK.’

‘Personal data’ means information which identifies any living individual or can, with other information held by you, identify any individual, and ‘processing of data’ means obtaining, recording or holding the information. Businesses in a whole range of sectors are often trusted with handling personal information. Whether that be information about their employees, customers, or the business itself, and if not handled correctly can result in persons being criminally liable for non-compliance.

employee personnel file

Digitising sensitive and personal files has long been discussed. As the world moves ever-closer towards a digital future, creating digital versions of HR files and other personal documents will become the norm – however as yet, many companies are hesitant to make the leap. That being said, for those that have made the switch, digitation has revolutionised the way personal data is stored; more secure, easy to find, amend and dispose of, digital data is certainly where the corporate world is heading. So what are the operational and day to day benefits for companies?

  • As employees come and go, it can be extremely time-consuming sifting through endless reams of paper finding the correct personnel folder to dispose of. Digitising these documents for almost instant access frees up time and allows for employees to concentrate on the task in hand.
  • Just as searching for hard copies of paper documents can be time-consuming, so can disposing of them. Digitising makes removing documents as easy as can be, at the click of a button. Shredding on the other hand can take up a lot of precious time that could be spent elsewhere.
  • Storing potentially hundreds of hard copies of files is not only a logistical nightmare, but there’s no guarantee that it’s safe. Paper folders and files can be quickly lost or stolen, falling into the wrong hands, which can cause a huge problem for those involved. By storing files online however, these documents can be encrypted and protected via multiple passwords – making the chance that they will fall into the wrong hands extremely unlikely.

Digitising documents is also of immense benefit to the environment. Reducing our carbon footprint is high on the government agenda for the next few years, so by making the leap now, businesses are leading the way.

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