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Question: Data Protection Act


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I was wondering if I the DPA allows me to prevent British Gas from automatically processing my data.


When I moved into my house they took a year to send my first bill despite me asking for it many times. Now I am behind with payments, even though I have agreed a repayment plan (after writing to their CEO - because all else failed!) the continue to send me reams of nasty letters every month.


Todays one says they will be obtaining a warrant to enter my premises and a locksmith will drill the lock out if I am not in - their tactics make me sick.


Any back to the original question, can I prevent automatic processing? I doubt a human would send so many letters but I feel that S12(6)(a)(iii) might make these letters exempt decision in relation to s12(1)


For the purpose of the act, these letters are definately causing me distress!


Any help appreciated.


12 Rights in relation to automated decision-taking


(1) An individual is entitled at any time, by notice in writing to any data controller, to require the data controller to ensure that no decision taken by or on behalf of the data controller which significantly affects that individual is based solely on the processing by automatic means of personal data in respect of which that individual is the data subject for the purpose of evaluating matters relating to him such as, for example, his performance at work, his creditworthiness, his reliability or his conduct.


(2) Where, in a case where no notice under subsection (1) has effect, a decision which significantly affects an individual is based solely on such processing as is mentioned in subsection (1)—

(a) the data controller must as soon as reasonably practicable notify the individual that the decision was taken on that basis, and

(b) the individual is entitled, within twenty-one days of receiving that notification from the data controller, by notice in writing to require the data controller to reconsider the decision or to take a new decision otherwise than on that basis.


(3) The data controller must, within twenty-one days of receiving a notice under subsection (2)(b) (“the data subject notice”) give the individual a written notice specifying the steps that he intends to take to comply with the data subject notice.


(4) A notice under subsection (1) does not have effect in relation to an exempt decision; and nothing in subsection (2) applies to an exempt decision.


(5) In subsection (4) “exempt decision” means any decision—

(a) in respect of which the condition in subsection (6) and the condition in subsection (7) are met, or

(b) which is made in such other circumstances as may be prescribed by the Secretary of State by order.


(6) The condition in this subsection is that the decision—

(a) is taken in the course of steps taken—

(i) for the purpose of considering whether to enter into a contract with the data subject,

(ii) with a view to entering into such a contract, or

(iii) in the course of performing such a contract, or

(b) is authorised or required by or under any enactment.

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