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Case Notes

Case Notes

This case related to DPP3 - Use of personal data

Case No.:2002C04

Use of personal data obtained from a public register

A service company contracted with a government department under certain subscription agreements for the provision of data contained in a public register relating to property transactions. A condition of the subscription agreements was that the data were provided for the use of the subscribers only and would not be used for developing new products or services for commercial exploitation. However, the company used the data collected to build up its own database designed to provide a service to client subscribers that would allow a "name search" to retrieve information about an individual's previous involvement in property transactions. In essence, the feature would enable the disclosure of the number and particulars of all properties that an individual owned.

Access to the public register by the general public is limited to the provision of property transaction data via the use of property particulars such as location or lot number. By this means, one can determine the ownership of a particular property. Although the data are already "in the public domain", DPP3 remains applicable in respect of the use of the data in that, unless there are relevant exemption provisions in the PD(P)O or prescribed consent given by the individuals concerned, the data should only be used for the purpose for which the data are to be used at the time of their collection. In determining the collection purpose of the data by the service company, the PCPD regarded it highly relevant to take into account the terms of the subscription agreements. Contrary to the terms of the subscription agreements, the company used the data for a purpose unrelated to the purpose for which such data were to be used at the time of their being provided by the government department. In the absence of any likelihood that the individuals concerned had given their consent for such use, the company was found to have been acting in contravention of the requirements of DPP3.

Category : Provisions/DPPs/COPs/Guidelines : Topic/Subject Matter :