Saturday 25 May 2019

Office of Data Protection Commissioner says GPO can keep their bins as public litter is not in breach of GDPR rules

The GPO in Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin 21/4/2019
The GPO in Dublin. Photo: Tony Gavin 21/4/2019
Ian Begley

Ian Begley

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner has moved to reassure An Post that any litter collected in their public bins at the GPO would not be subjected to GDPR laws.

Earlier today, An Post confirmed they removed all public bins from the GPO due to, what they termed as, potential privacy breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

It means that customers and visitors to the historic building are no longer able to dispose of litter within the premises.

An Post confirmed this was the case after a pensioner rang RTE's 'Liveline' programme and told broadcaster Joe Duffy she couldn't find any bins to throw her rubbish into.

Read more here: Public bins removed from the GPO over GDPR concerns

When contacted this evening, a spokesperson for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner told independent.ie that "under no circumstances" could public litter be in breach of GDPR.

Earlier today, An Post said they removed the bins on a "trial basis' due to fears of a potential GDPR breach.

The company said that under the new privacy laws, even rubbish containing personal details is considered their responsibility. 

For this reason, the decision was taken to remove every bin from the post office’s main hall. 

A pensioner raised the issue on 'Liveline' to express her dismay over the new regulation. 

“I was in the GPO last Saturday to send on a card and when I went to throw the cellophane away, I noticed that there was no bin under the counter,” she said. 

“So, I went to the next counter and to the big centre piece, but there were no bins anywhere.

“I asked an [employee] who was going around with a big bag of rubbish what happened, and she said, ‘we’ve removed them all because of the GDPR law’.

“I asked what relevance does that have with litter bins and she said, ‘I don’t know, but we’re crucified trying to keep the place clean. You have to leave your rubbish on the counter or else throw it on the floor’.” 

The caller added that if she wanted to dispose of confidential information, she would rather leave it in a bin than have it lying on top of a counter.

A spokesperson for An Post issued a statement to the radio programme, detailing their reasons behind the decision. 

“All public bins were removed from the GPO.

“Items of a confidential nature like receipts and mail items are often deposited in the bins by customers and visitors in the post office’s main hall. 

“This material then technically becomes the responsibility of An Post under GDPR.

“To head off any possible breach of GDPR in the future, An Post decided to remove the bins on a trial basis.”

Last month, school principals had warned parents they cannot take photos at communions or sports days “because of GDPR”.

However, the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) outlined that any outright ban on parents taking photos was wrong.

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