You have a right to find out if others have stored information about you. All you have to do is write to the individual or organisation asking them if they have information about you. You are entitled to a description of the information and the purpose for which it is held. Making this type of request is free of charge.
You also have a right to obtain a copy of all information they hold about you, with certain exceptions. Write to them and ask them to send you ‘a copy of any information you keep about me, on computer or in manual form, in relation to …’. It helps to be specific and provide as much detail as you can about the information you want to get a copy of.
In the rather feudal language of data protection law, in this scenario you are the Data Subject. The person or organisation you are making the request to is the Data Controller. So these requests are commonly referred to as Subject Access Requests.
Key points to remember
- You have a legal right to request your information. You can make a complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner if any individual or organisation does not comply with your request.
- You must make your requests in writing.
- Provide as much detail as possible (customer numbers, PPS number if dealing with government departments, previous addresses where applicable)
- A request for a description of the information held and the purpose for which it is being kept must be responded to within 21 days.
- A request for a copy of information held must be responded to within 40 days.
- The maximum fee that can be charged for a copy of this information is €6.35.
The Irish Data Protection Commissioner has a good page describing how to go about this, including a rough template for requests.
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