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Tuesday 12 November 2019

Councils who use software with UK firms face GDPR headaches

  

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Caroline O'Doherty

Not even the dead have escaped Brexit preparations as county councils using a Northern Ireland firm to manage cemetery records faced a data protection headache.

PlotBox, a software package for burial grounds, is run from Ballymena, Co Antrim, which means that after Brexit personal data, in particular next-of-kin details, would be stored outside the EU and beyond the remit of general data protection regulation (GDPR).

Similar issues have arisen for councils using the UK-based Guardian24 system to monitor and safeguard staff working alone outside of office settings, as well as those using the Deadsure online system that allows people to report public lighting faults.

Issues where councils have leasing agreements with UK-based landlords under the Rental Accommodation Scheme have also been identified.

Concerns

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has been using a number of Britain and Northern Ireland-based firms for assessments of planning applications and groundwater borehole-monitoring on the extensive development lands at Cherrywood. It also uses the technological services of UK company Public-I to webcast proceedings from the council chamber.

In all cases, concerns have been raised about the transfer of details of individual staff, clients, service users and property owners between the two jurisdictions.

Councils were issued with warnings and advice from the Department of Housing, Planing and Local Government, telling them that while such transfers did not have to stop if the service being used was still required post-Brexit, appropriate safeguards had to be put in place - meaning adding extra data protection clauses to transactions.

Councils were warned to check if the UK companies used other countries for off-site storage for data. If these were also outside the EU, further clauses needed to be added. Council staff at various local authorities have conducted trawls to see if any of their data storage would be affected by Brexit.

Irish Independent

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