Individuals and corporations exist in an increasingly virtual world, with web presence becoming central to reputation management. As a company secretary and legal support services provider, London Registrars (http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/) advises on company compliance with the Data Protection Act (DPA). A recent judgement on section 36 of the DPA could mean that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) could regulate blogs, personal websites and social media websites such as Facebook.

Statements made on the internet and on social media platforms such as personal websites, Facebook and Twitter could be subject to the application of section 36 of the DPA – the domestic purposes exemption. The UK’s High Court had been analysing whether the DPA could be applied to the publisher of one particular “personal” website, ‘Solicitors from Hell’. When the ICO was asked to investigate the website it refused, citing section 36 as depriving it of jurisdiction. The ICO went on to say that “The situation would clearly be impossible were the Information Commissioner to be expected to rule on what it is acceptable for one individual to say about another be that a solicitor or another individual”.

However, the High Court judge in fact found that the DPA did envisage that the Information Commissioner would consider what is acceptable for individuals to say about each other, because the First Data Protection Principle requires that data must be processed lawfully. This ruling could mean that for the first time the ICO will be called upon to regulate statements made on the internet via blogs, websites and even Facebook.

With more companies engaging with clients, potential clients and the general public over the internet than ever before, it’s important that they ensure company compliance with the DPA in this arena as in other areas of professional conduct. Keeping up with the latest High Court rulings on such issues is not practically possible for most companies, which is where London Registrars can help. This company secretary services provider and legal support firm keeps abreast of all legislature pertinent to companies to ensure its clients are fully compliant at all times. For further information on London Registrars’ full range of services visit the website at http://www.london-registrars.co.uk/.