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Source: BBC News

Posted on July 12, 2001

      Nearly three-quarters of all adults in Britain are worried about the amount of personal details being stored electronically by companies and organizations, according to the data protection watchdog.

      The Information Commissioner Elizabeth France said her office had received a record number of enquiries over alleged breaches of data protection rules. Research conducted on behalf of the Information Commissioner and published in her annual report on Wednesday, show that 73% of adults are either "very concerned" or "quite concerned" about the amount of personal information being held by organizations.

      Ms France said people must be aware of their rights in this area and continue to question organizations over the type of details being held.

      She said: "People are worried about the ways their information might be being used without them being aware of it.

      "The most important thing is that people have some confidence about what is happening to their information and understand that there are boundaries."

      The annual report reveals that 96% of individuals rate their rights to personal privacy as important or very important.

      It highlights that women are more concerned than men and those aged over 45 are more worried than younger people.

      In 1991/92 the number of people complaining about alleged breaches of data protection totalled 1,747. By 2000/01 that figure had risen to 8,875.

      The report also mentions the government's target of delivering 100% of services electronically by 2005 and identifies setting and meeting data protection standards as a key component.

      The importance of good quality data is recorded with specific reference to the Police National Computer.

      Problems with accuracy of records have been identified in two independent reports.

      The commissioner currently operates from an office in Wilmslow, Cheshire, but she has decided to establish additional offices in the three devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

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