“The leader of the council wishes to make the names of the debtors public, but the Data Protection Act of 1998 prohibits their publication.”
So says an article from the Blackpool Gazette, when quoting a council report (which I haven’t yet been able to find) which appears to have indicated that
The council has been forced to write off £1.68m in owed business rates going back around the last six years
The council leader is reported to have said
Several names appear more than once, owing vast sums of money to the council…Several high-profile business owners, who always seemed to have a lot to say about how the town is run, seem to have no qualms about disappearing owing us tens of thousands of pounds…We are very dogged and tenacious when it comes to pursuing debtors, and clearly need to continue to be.
What I do find very frustrating is that I am not able to publish the names of these people
This puzzles me: names of businesses will not, as a general rule constitute personal data under section 1(1) of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA). The definition of personal data
data which relate to a living individual who can be identified—
(a) from those data, or
(b)from those data and other information which is in the possession of, or is likely to come into the possession of, the data controller
should have the putative data subject as its focus rather than…some transaction or event in which he may have figured or have had an interest
Information about people who run businesses, and the businesses they run, will often be covered by the Act. This is because information about a person’s business, activities, possessions, and so on is generally personal information about that person
Business information that does not identify individuals is not covered by the Act
Information about a sole trader’s business will be personal information about him
I’m not sure I would be so unequivocal, but as a general proposition it’s not objectionable.