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US Law Firms and the DPA

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US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby fradis16 » Fri May 13, 2016 8:33 pm

I recently submitted a request to a US law firm for all my personal data in accordance with the DPA. The firm is based in the UK and headquartered in New York.

The firm has a 30 day deletion policy in relation to emails so that any emails that are not archived or otherwise preserved (e.g. saved to desktop) are automatically deleted. This has raised a number of issues:

1) Are law firms regulated by the SRA obliged to retain all emails beyond 30 days?

2) If you sent a DPA request and it arrived on say 1 April would it be a breach for the law firm to wait until 2 May to carry out the searches knowing that the emails prior to receipt of the request would have been deleted? Thereby they would not need to send anything.

3) Would the conduct in relation to the practice described above be a breach of the DPA or SRA principles relating to the compliance of laws? Would it be considered deceitful?

Thanks.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby atticus » Fri May 13, 2016 9:00 pm

Personal data is more than just e-mails. If the deletion policy kicks in, then it appears that the firm does not consider your e-mails significant. If such deletion constitutes deletion of your personal data held by the firm, then the firm has ceased to hold your personal data. And a subject access request can only be for such of your personal data as the person or organisation to whom the request is made holds. If it has ceased to hold your personal data, it does not hold your personal data.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby dls » Sun May 15, 2016 4:38 pm

The only issue as to nationality is whether (as it will very likely be) the firm is regulated by the SRA. If so, the notepaper will say so. If so, the international element means nothing.

I doubt that the firm's policy will allow anything of potential significance to be deleted in the manner you describe. Law firms will keep any client related material for six years or more.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby fradis16 » Sun May 15, 2016 6:24 pm

The firm has supplied the data however intentially omitted all emails sent between my friend and another employee. It is clear that they have these emails and therefore this appears to be deliberate. Is this likely to be considered a breach of their SRA obligations in addition to the DPA?

It is clear that this is not a mistake but a deliberate and intentional act because such emails are deterimental to the firm.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun May 15, 2016 6:53 pm

Why are these things clear? Why are these emails your personal data?
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby fradis16 » Sun May 15, 2016 8:00 pm

It is clear because my friend sent those emails and knows that they exist. They very clearly contain his or her name and thus contain information identifying a living individual. The approach has clearly been very selective.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun May 15, 2016 8:07 pm

But why are they your personal data?
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby fradis16 » Sun May 15, 2016 8:20 pm

Because it contains "information identifying a living individual" which identifies my friend - in the sent and from fields. "personal data" shall mean any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person ('Data Subject'); an identifiable person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly....
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby Smouldering Stoat » Sun May 15, 2016 8:35 pm

Then it is his personal date, not your personal data.
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Re: US Law Firms and the DPA

Postby atticus » Sun May 15, 2016 10:14 pm

Are you entitled to ask for documents that contain my personal data?
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