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Email snooping code of practice delayed

Data Protection Registrar overwhelmed with responses

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The Data Protection Registrar's code of practice for surveillance in the workplace has been delayed due to the large number of responses from a public consultation.

The code of practice is vital for clarifying what employees and employers are entitled to do in the workplace following several pieces of new legislation.

The controversial and flawed RIP Act opens up the possibility of widespread email and phone surveillance. But this has also to tie in with the Human Rights Act, which enshrines the right to reasonable privacy, and the Data Protection Act, which insists that data is recovered "in a fair and proportionate manner".

Ironically, this makes the need for a coherent code of practice all the stronger. A Data Protection Registrar spokesman told us it had received around 110 full responses regarding the implications and conflicts of the new legislation.

As a result, the office intends to break up its grand document into how new laws work with the Data Protection Act into different sections and release them throughout the year, with the first hopefully out at the end of this month. The controversial issue of work surveillance will be one of the later sections to be released.

The spokesman would not be drawn on when this would appear though, not even if it would be available before the end of the year. The Registrar's office is also considering holding a conference on the issues in an attempt to hasten the process along. ®

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