WI COMPUTER SYSTEM
1. Registration of the WI under the DPA 1998
1.1 Since it was set up in 1995, the Warnings
Index has been regarded as exempt from the provisions of the 1984
Data Protection Act (DPA) on the grounds of national security.
However, in view of changes in the structure of the data base
and new legislation we are reviewing our position in relation
to registration. Registration under the DPA would not radically
change the way we operate. We already comply with the principles
of the DPA other than in relation to data disclosure. After registration
we would be exempt from the requirement to disclose personal data
which is held for the prevention or detection of crime or for
reasons of national security.
2. Exchanges with Public Bodies within the
2.1 Sections 20 and 21 of the new Immigration
and Asylum Act created the class of "information gateway"
with the main law enforcement agencies: the police, NCIS, NCS
and Customs and Excise. The information may only be used in connection
with the core functions of those organisations, in our case for
22. The WI receives and shares information
with UK Government Agencies other than those designated as gateways
in the Immigration and Asylum Act. The exchange of personal data
is permitted under paragraph 5 of Schedule 2 of the DPA providing
it is necessary for the exercise of any function of the Crown,
a Minister of the Crown or a government department. Likewise,
the exchange of sensitive personal data is permitted under paragraph
7 of Schedule 3 of the DPA providing that it is necessary for
the exercise of any function of the Crown, a Minister of the Crown
or a government department. We are satisfied therefore that such
data exchanges are lawful.
3. National Security
3.1 A proportion of the current WI entries
relate to national security. Although this is not an appropriate
forum in which to discuss the extent, source or content of those
entries, we are satisfied that the agencies supplying such information
for inclusion are permitted to do so by law.
4. Exchanges with Public Bodies outside the
4.1 The eighth principle of the DPA 1998
is that personal data should not be transferred to a country outside
the European Economic Area unless that state provides an adequate
level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects.
4.2 The WI System is used in Immigration
Offices in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which are
outside the EEA. These territories have data protection legislation
that mirrors the 1984 UK Act and we believe that this provides
the required level of protection.
4.3 The WI is also used in UK visa offices
in Taipei and at Hamilton. The former is not in diplomatic premises
and the latter is managed by the Government of a Dependent Territory.
Schedule 4, paragraph 4 (1) of the 1998 DPA exempts a data controller
from the provisions of the Eighth Principle where the transfer
is for reasons of substantial public interest or for the purpose
of any legal proceedings. We believe that the use of the W1 in
these offices is justified since its purpose is to maintain the
integrity of the immigration control and national security.
4.4 The Falkland Islands have no registered
5. Human Rights Act
5.1 The Human Rights Act will allow people
to claim their rights under the European Convention on Human Rights
in UK courts instead of having to go to the European Court in
5.2 Article 8 of the ECHR states:
Everyone has the right to respect
for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.
There shall be no interference by
a public authority with the exercise of this right except such
as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic
society in the interests of national security, public safety or
the economic well being of the country, for the prevention of
disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or
for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.
5.3 Our view is that any exchanges that
involve the investigation of possible criminal offences would
not be in breach of Article 8, as long as the exchange of information
is necessary and proportionate for the purposes of the relevant
investigation and are "in accordance with the law".
Data changes are "in accordance
with law" if they are carried out as a necessary part of
the Immigration Service statutory functions.
Any exchanges that take place to
check whether a person is an immigration offender can be justified
under the HRA.
Outward transfers of information
to other Government departments and public agencies are permissible
as long as the exchanges are justified in terms of the receiving
agency's core business.
5.4 In view of the above we are satisfied
that the operation of the WI is in accordance with the HRA.