Processing personal data

Processing personal data

Processing personal data is defined as any operation or set of operations performed on personal data. These operations are extremely varied and relate, among others, to the collection, storage, use, modification, disclosure of the data.

A few examples:

  • a hotel offering the possibility of online bookings processes data when registering customers' name, the dates of their stay and their credit card number.
  • a municipality also processes data when it transmits the names of individuals requesting a building permit to a contractor who wants to send them publicity, .

The Privacy Act applies as soon as data are processed, even only partially, using automatic means. Automatic means include all information technologies, computer technology, telematics, telecommunication networks (the Internet).

For example, the Privacy Act applies to:

  • a company's computerised database containing customer or supplier data;
  • the electronic list of transactions on a bank account;
  • the computerised file of a company's members of staff or of the children enrolled in a school;
  • etc.

The Privacy Act also applies, however, as soon as a processing operation is carried out using automatic means. For example:

  • a temporary employment agency keeping applicants' hand-written curricula vitae but sending the documents to employers by fax, has to observe the rules in the Privacy Act for all the operations it performs on the curricula vitae (such as storing, filing or sending them).

If data are not processed using automatic means (for example on paper or on microfiche) the Act still has to be observed if the data are included or will be included in a manual filing system that can be accessed according to specific criteria (for example people's names in alphabetical order).

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