Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Joint Oireachtas Committee on Transport and Communications

National Postcode System: (Resumed) Discussion

10:20 am

Ms Patricia Cronin:

The data protection issue which Deputy Michael Moynihan has raised is an important one. Clearly, in order to have confidence in the project, it is very important that members of the public have absolute confidence that their privacy issues will be addressed. Issues were raised about the project by the Data Protection Commissioner in his last annual report. Clearly, it is the job of the commissioner to raise these issues. We have had a great deal of engagement with the Commissioner and understand the concerns of the office. We have explained in great detail what we are doing.

I have mentioned the contract with Capita which includes a great deal of material on what it must abide by in terms of data protection, the way it stores information, the Minister's right to inspect its data protection facilities and, very importantly, the accreditation process for the people who will be selling on the Eircode database. There will be very strict requirements on which Capita will insist. We have insisted on this as part of the contract.

On foot of our engagement with the Data Protection Commissioner, we have also undertaken a privacy impact assessment which is a specialised document whereby one looks at a project such as the Eircode system and reviews it from beginning to end to determine if there is a potential impact on anyone's privacy. As part of this, we have spoken to many stakeholders. We have spoken to the National Consumer Agency, logistics companies and Digital Rights Ireland, with which we have had an in-depth conversation to see if there is anything in the proposal that might be considered to have an impact on anyone's privacy. Broadly, they are satisfied with what we are doing.

Clearly, on foot of the commissioner's recommendations, we will include additional requirements for Capita such as a privacy statement on its website in order that members of the public will have a good sense that privacy is taken very seriously as part of the project. In addition, when everybody receives his or her letter next year, there will be a link in the draft notice with the fact that there will be a privacy statement on the Capita website. I am sure Capita's call centre staff will be trained to address any privacy issue any member of the public might have. The call centre will operate from next year.

It is not the case that we have done a lot and stopped. Clearly, as part of the implementation of the project and the privacy impact assessment which is a working document and not one we have finalised, we will continue to take views on board. Where we believe we can do better on the privacy issue, we will certainly work with Capita on it.