Right of Access
You have the right to be given a copy, clearly explained, of any information kept on file about you, simply by making a written request. You can make an access request to any organisation or any individual who has personal information about you either on their computer files or manual files. 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.
Right of rectification or erasure
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.
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.
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.
Right to seek compensation through the Courts
If you suffer damage through the mishandling of information about you on computer, then you may be entitled to claim compensation through the Courts. Section 7 of the Data Protection Act, 1988, 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.