Commission to quiz IFA over data sharing of farmers who opt out of paying levy
The Data Commission has confirmed it will meet the IFA over aspects of its levy collection system that allows the sharing of some farmers' data.
"We will be engaging with the IFA to establish what their legal basis is" for receiving the data of farmers who opt out of paying a levy, a spokesperson for the Data Protection Commission said.
IFA confirmed it contacted the Data Protection Commission on Tuesday this week, after the legality of the levy collection, which includes a process for identifying farmers who do not pay the levy, was called into question by a leading data protection expert.
The levy, collected by meat processors, marts and co-ops on the IFA's behalf, was worth €3.2m to IFA in 2018.
The IFA says it allows all farmers to contribute fairly and proportionately based on the scale of their enterprise to support the association's work on their behalf.
According to IFA, a farmer's information is only passed to them if the farmer signs the form and gives explicit consent to do so.
However, Dr TJ McIntyre, a solicitor and law lecturer at UCD, said there must be a legal basis to provide information to third parties and this must normally be done on an "opt-in" basis.
"If the form does not allow farmers to opt out of the levy without their personal data being passed on to the IFA, then it is not valid consent for the purposes of the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)," he said.