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Fourth Principle - accuracy of data

"Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date"

Inaccuracies in certain types of information, e.g. creditworthiness, medical or criminal records, can have wide-ranging implications for the data subject.

Data are defined as being inaccurate if they are "incorrect or misleading as to any matter of fact".

However, inaccurate data that accurately record information you have been given by either the data subject or a third party will not contravene this principle provided the data controller has taken "reasonable steps" to ensure the accuracy of the personal data when using that data, for example disclosing it to a third party, or, if you receive a notification from the individual that their personal data is inaccurate, this is held with the data.

Suitable procedures should therefore be in place to ensure the accuracy of personal data and to ensure that the data is marked if any objections are received.

Updating is only required where necessary and this is to be determined by reference to the purpose of the data.

If a complaint is made to the Information Commissioner regarding compliance with the fourth principle, an Enforcement Notice can be issued. The data subject also has other rights in respect of the correction of inaccurate personal data.

Further guidance on the fourth data protection principle is available below.