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Data Protection Act needs changing, says charity

Law prevents aid organisations from co-operating

A leading charity providing internet access to the disabled yesterday called for the Data Protection Act to be amended to allow charities to co-operate more easily.

Anthony Wigram, chairman and founder of U Can Do IT, a charity that provides one-on-one computer training for the disabled in their own homes, said the Data Protection Act prevents his organisation finding disabled people to help.

"The Data Protection Act is a major hurdle to finding and contacting potential students," said Wigram at an event in Westminster to raise awareness of the charity's work. "There's a role for government here to recognise that charities would be more effective if they could share their databases."

The Data Protection Act prohibits organisations from revealing the personal details they hold of people without their consent. So a charity providing, for example, holidays for the disabled, can't swap database details with U Can Do IT.

Wigram's charity currently relies on co-operation with doctors, social services and other local authority organisations, and word-of-mouth referrals.

Minister for the Disabled, Maria Eagle, who attended yesterdays event, said "I'll take away with me the comments you have made about the [Data Protection] Act," but was doubtful anything would be changed.

"Internet access is very necessary for everyone, whatever their ability," added Eagle. "Not having internet access will soon be like not being able to read."


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