Tuesday, 16 June 2020
Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
Election Monitoring Missions
33. To ask the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade if he will make available the names of observers appointed to the most recent election observer roster; if the Data Protection Commission has been consulted regarding this matter having regard to the general data protection regulation; the advice received from the Data Protection Commission; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11255/20]
I refer the Deputy to the response to Parliamentary Question Nos. 21 of 3 June 2020 and 37 of 5 March 2020.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade administers and maintains a roster of suitably skilled individuals who are available to deploy on international election observation missions organised, in the main, by the European Union (EU) and the Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights of Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE-ODIHR).
For as long as the Department has maintained the roster, the names of roster members have formed part of the public record. This has been done to demonstrate accountability and transparency in the administration of the roster.
As the 2019-2023 roster exists within the framework of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Department has given detailed consideration to the legal basis for publishing the names.
The Department has consulted with the Data Protection Commission (DPC). This followed a detailed consideration of the DPC Guidance Note on the Legal Bases for Processing Personal Data. Concerning the publishing of names, the DPC raised a number of important matters which my Department as a Data Controller must consider. These remain under consideration and include: the GDPR right to be forgotten, the possibility of other information being inferred, or inferable, as a result of publication of the names, and whether there have been incidents of members of the roster having suffered harm as a result of being identified. It will also be important to also consider any final concerns raised by individual roster members, who each have data protection and privacy rights, as well as significant other rights and freedoms.
The list contains the names of persons who volunteered to join a roster without any guarantee of selection for an overseas election observation mission. While it remains my intention that this list is published, this will only happen when I am satisfied that doing so is in compliance with the GDPR and other legal obligations.