Data Protection Commissioner
Data Protection Commissioner

Press Release

 

Know your Data Protection Rights - Council of Europe -Data Protection Day 
– 28 January 2007


The Data Protection Commissioner, Billy Hawkes, is taking the opportunity afforded by the inaugural Council of Europe Data Protection Day – 28th January 2007 - to remind people to think about their rights and choices in terms of their personal information. Holders of personal data both in the public and private sector also need to be reminded of their obligations in relation to that data.
Speaking today the Commissioner said, "I am pleased to say that in the vast majority of cases personal data is collected from and held about people in a very transparent way. Many improvements have taken place in recent years in relation to what purposes personal data is obtained and used for. Unfortunately there are still many examples of cases of where personal information is used or disclosed in a manner that is not acceptable or indeed lawful."  He added, "if Government and business always inform the person what uses will be made of their personal information, the person can then take an informed choice in relation to those uses, and most of the problems encountered would not arise."
Your Rights:
In this context, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is placing a large emphasis on raising awareness amongst the public and the holders of personal data on the rights afforded to people by the Data Protection Acts. The most basic right is the right of access to personal data, whether the data is held by your employer, a place of business, Government, the Gardai or the Health sector. Where the information is incorrect you have the right to have it amended or in some cases have it deleted. The Commissioner has strong powers to ensure that these rights are granted and does not hesitate to use them to secure the rights of individuals. The Commissioner is also encouraging individuals to check privacy statements on websites, confidentiality assurances on business documents and to always consider, when asked, whether you wish to receive additional marketing material in relation to associated products or services.
Teenagers and Young Adults:
As part of the 28th January awareness day, the Commissioner would like to announce his intention to work closely with 12 – 24 year olds to raise awareness of personal privacy issues, especially privacy online. Of chief concern to the Commissioner is: How important do teenagers and young adults think privacy is? Do they know how much information others know about them? Do they answer online questionnaires or sign-up for competitions and then get irritated by follow-up emails promoting various goods and products? Do they get text messages advertising a new product or a gig and wonder how the sender got their number?  Do they tell strangers too much about themselves in chat rooms? Would they ever tell a stranger where they live?
The Commissioner wants to reassure teenagers and young adults that they have rights when it comes to text messages, prize competitions, CCTV, and personal data stored on the internet. Throughout 2007, the Office will consult with this age group, conduct research, and issue new multi-media guidance material through websites, schools, colleges and other media on data protection and online privacy
For more information about data protection, please go to www.dataprotection.ie.
Note to Editors:
The Council of Europe has decided that each year there should be a special day dedicated to Data Protection. All countries across Europe have been asked to mark this day - 28th January 2007 - in some way. By having a European Data Protection Day, the Council of Europe intends to further increase the European citizens' awareness of data protection and their right to privacy.

 

All European Data Protection Commissioners support the initiative and have encouraged everyone dealing with data protection to highlight the importance of privacy by providing data subjects with more specific information about this fundamental right.