Sunday 17 December 2017

Data watchdog fears that public bodies 'leak' our private information

Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes
Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes
Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

THE Data Protection Commissioner has said he is "entirely unsatisfied" with the Department of Social Protection's handling of citizens' personal data.

Billy Hawkes also said that he remained "particularly concerned" about how many government departments – and some public sector bodies – were allowing personal data of members of the public to be shared and "leaked" in an improper fashion.

"I have always had concerns about how public services handle data," said Mr Hawkes.

"And I have noticed the increased scope of data handling in public bodies without, often, proper oversight measures. And I would like to say specifically that I am entirely unsatisfied with the arrangements in place for the oversight of personal data in the Department of Social Protection."

Mr Hawkes (above) said that his office would soon publish "a major audit" of An Garda Siochana and the way that it handles personal data of members of the public.

The Data Commissioner has previously highlighted abuses of personal data by gardai, particularly in relation to access of the PULSE system, which allows police officers to access information in a centralised database.


Mr Hawkes also said that his office is in advanced stages of a major privacy audit of the social media service LinkedIn, which has its international headquarters in Dublin.

He said that a privacy audit of Apple, which has an international headquarters in Cork, will begin shortly following the conclusion of the LinkedIn audit.

Mr Hawkes was speaking at the annual Data Protection Conference in Dublin, held to mark European Data Protection Day.

He said that new laws governing data protection rules were being held up at European level, with disagreements between the European Parliament and the European Council over the severity of penalties and personal data rights.

The European Parliament, he said, was generally in favour of stricter rules in relation to the governance of privacy and data protection.

Mr Hawkes also said that the more successful the IDA was in attracting large digital and internet companies to Ireland, the more work it created for his office.

Irish Independent

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