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European Biopharmaceutical Review

Data Protection - Can Anonymising Data Protect You?

The compilation, dissemination and use of databases containing human genetic information raise obvious data protection and privacy concerns. European Union Directive 95/46, implemented in the UK as the Data Protection Act 1998, sets out a rigorous regime of controls and rights concerning the processing of information about individuals. Those involved in the burgeoning bioinformatics sphere need to give careful thought to whether the legislation applies to their activities. This article will show that this may not always be entirely straightforward.The EU Directive and UK Act are concerned with the 'processing' of 'personal data'relating to living individuals. The definition of 'processing' in the legislation is all encompassing, including (but not being limited to) obtaining, organising, recording, holding, disclosing, using and even erasing the information. Therefore the application of the legislation depends more on what is meant by the term 'personal data'. Any information stored or manipulated using a computer qualifies as 'data', but to be 'personal' data the information must relate to a living individual.


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By Myles Jelf, Associate, Bristows Myles Jelf specialises in intellectual property law, with an emphasis on litigation. He has twice been seconded to clients' in-house legal teams, gaining experience that, together with his early training as an engineer, gives him a valuable insight into Bristows' clients' commercial needs.
Myles has worked for clients in a wide variety of industrial sectors, ranging from the production of shampoos to silicon chip fabrication. He also has experience concerning the application of EU competition law to intellectual property rights, and has represented clients' interests before the Competition Directorate of the European Commission. Within his IT law practice, Myles focuses on the regulation of data processing and personal data privacy, especially as it applies to Internet/ e-Business ventures.

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