Data Protection - Your Rights

For the most part, those that hold personal information relating to individuals do so in a responsible manner. It is possible however, that: The Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003 gives you rights to protect you against these and similar problems, and creates obligations for those keeping personal information.

Right of Access

The personal information to which you are entitled is that held on computer or in a manual filing system that facilitates access to information about you. You can make an access request to any organisation or any individual who has personal information about you. For example, you could make an access request to your doctor, your bank, a credit reference agency, a Government Department dealing with your affairs, or your employer. [view more...]

Right of rectification or erasure and blocking

If you find out that information kept about you by someone else is inaccurate, you have a right to have that information corrected (or "rectified"). In some circumstances, you may also have the information erased altogether from the database - for example, if the body keeping the information has no good reason to hold it (i.e. it is irrelevant or excessive for the purpose), or if the information has not been obtained fairly. You can exercise your right of rectification or erasure simply by writing to the body keeping your data.

In addition, you can request a data controller to block your data i.e. to prevent it from being used for certain purposes. For example, you might want your data blocked for research purposes where it is held for other purposes.

Right to freedom from automated decision making

Important decisions about you, such as rating your work performance, your creditworthiness or your reliability may not be made solely by computer or automated means unless you consent to this. Generally speaking, there has to be a human input to such decisions.

Right to have your name removed from a direct marketing list

If an organisation holds your information for the purposes of direct marketing (such as direct mailing, or telephone marketing), you have the right to have your details removed from that database. This right is useful if you are receiving unwanted "junk mail" or annoying telephone calls from salespeople. You can exercise this right simply by writing to the organisation concerned. The organisation must write back to you within 40 days confirming that they have dealt with your request.  A Consumer Guide to Dealing with Unsolicited Direct Marketing.

Right to complain to the Data Protection Commissioner

What happens if someone ignores your access request, or refuses to correct information about you which is inaccurate? If you are having difficulty in exercising your rights, or if you feel that any person or organisation is not complying with their responsibilities, then you may complain to the Data Protection Commissioner, who will investigate the matter for you. The Commissioner has legal powers to ensure that your rights are upheld. Making a complaint to the Commissioner.

Right to seek compensation through the Courts

If you suffer damage through the mishandling of information about you, then you may be entitled to claim compensation through the Courts. Section 7 of the Data Protection Acts, 1988 and 2003, makes it clear that organisations who hold your personal data owe you a duty of care. You should note that any such compensation claims are a matter for the Courts - the Data Protection Commissioner has no function in this matter.


As mentioned above, people or organisations keeping personal information must give individuals access to their personal information, and must correct or delete any information found to be inaccurate or irrelevant. But their responsibilities don't stop there. For more detailed information, please see the 'Your Responsibilities' section of our website.

They must:

They must not:

Any failure to observe these principles would be a breach of the Data Protection Acts.

You can find more detailed information about your rights in other parts of our website - especially under 'FAQ' (Frequently Asked Questions) and 'Guidance'.

A Guide to your Rights is also available in Irish on our Irish-language site (  A Guide to your Rights is also available on this site in the Polish, Czech and Slovak languages.

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