The Daily Mail is laying into the Data Protection Act again, this time accusing the legislation of keeping a stolen dog from its rightful owner.
Dave Moorhouse claims his dog, which had been implanted with an identity chip, was stolen in 2007, but that he recently received a letter from Animal Care (which manages the pooch ID database) asking him to confirm a change of ownership. He asked the company to tell him who requested the change, and Animal Care suggested he contact the police. This he did, and Animal Care was pleased to tell West Yorkshire's finest who currently has possession of the disputed dog.
But that's just the facts, not much of a story there one might think.
"A man who had his dog microchipped before it was stolen cannot be told where the animal now lives because of data protection laws" the Mail thundered. It went on to explain that "Rocky" a "gorgeous, lovely dog who would lick you to death" was chipped as a puppy, but was allegedly stolen in 2007.
In April Moorhouse got a letter from Animal Care asking him to confirm a change of ownership: "I asked them for the name and address of the people who had my dog but they wouldn’t give me the details," he explained.
The Mail traced the problem to the Data Protection Act and its draconian restrictions on companies sharing data with theft victims who fancy dropping round to have a word with the accused thieves.
Despite not originally reporting the alleged crime to the police, Moorhouse has reportedly spent "nearly £400 on legal fees and phone calls trying to find out where Rocky is."
Which is a shame when all he actually needed to do was report the theft. After some prompting from Animal Care he spoke to the police, at which point the police made an official request and were provided with the information. It's now up to the law to decide who owns Rocky and where he should be living.
Obviously the needs of vigilante justice in such situations would have been better served by passing on the details, in breach of the Act, so that people can go round personally and reclaim their property - and what could possibly go wrong in that scenario? ®