Seanad debates

Wednesday, 9 November 2022

Data Protection Act 2018: Motion


10:30 am

Photo of Paddy BurkePaddy Burke (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I welcome the Minister of State to the House. I welcome the three draft regulations. They are very much warranted, will put the public mind at ease and will help in many situations where there are investigations.These are very technical regulations, and very difficult to understand if one is an ordinary layperson. The main thing is that the regulations are in the public interest. I really like the idea that any of the restrictions that are going to be considered will be done on a case-by-case basis. That is the main issue here. I note the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Deputy Roderic O'Gorman, when he dealt with this in the committee, said that what was anticipated in the data protection regulations under article 23 of the data protection regulation, as well as section 60 of the Data Protection Act, may be restricted to protect what are referred to as "important objectives of general public interest". One of these was identified as "avoiding obstructions to any official or legal inquiry, investigation, or process." In practical terms, what is at issue here is the potential for data protection rights that are fundamentally directed at privacy and to the fair use of personal data to be used in a way that was not intended as a means of undermining, delaying, or derailing the Ombudsman's office in the performance of his or her duties. That is very important and I believe it is only right that a person does not have the power to delay or upset any investigations that are going to take place in the public interest.

Section 9 is about the communication with the data subject and that the Ombudsman shall ensure that all information provided to a data subject, under or in relation to these regulations, is provided in a concise, intelligible and easily accessible form, using clear and plain language. That is the most important piece in these regulations. Whatever message is going to be conveyed to the person involved is going to be in the type of language that the person will easily understand because the regulations themselves are very legal in their terms.

I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Calleary, to the House and I wish him well with these regulations. I believe it is in the public interest to pass these as quickly as possible.


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