Do the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998 apply only to personal data held on computer?

No, information stored manually, ie in paper format is also covered by the Act, provided that certain criteria are met. Information held manually must be "structured in such a way that specific information relating to a particular individual is readily accessible" in order to be covered by the Act. This means in effect that the filing system in which information is held must have a structure or referencing mechanism that allows information about individuals to be easily found. Furthermore, the file itself must be structured or referenced in such a way that specific information about the individual can be readily located within the file without the person who is seeking the data being required to leaf through the content in order to find it.