This meeting comes in the context of our elective work programme. As a committee we set out a work programme at the start of the term. This is our second such meeting. The first session on sexual offences and victim testimony was very successful, and I thank the Vice Chairman for chairing it.
Today is the second module of our work programme. It is really interesting line-up. The purpose of the meeting is to have engagement with a number of stakeholders who have made written submissions to assist the committee in its consideration of the topic of the general data protection regulation, GDPR. Our proceedings today are divided into two sessions. In session 1 the committee will engage with Mr. Max Schrems and Dr. Fred Logue. In session 2 we will engage with representatives from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties - Dr. Johnny Ryan will give a presentation - and the Data Protection Commission team.
All witnesses are appearing virtually before the committee today from locations outside of the Leinster House precinct, and they are all welcome to our meeting. We are joined in this session by Mr. Schrems and Dr. Logue. You are both very welcome to the deliberations today and I thank you for participating. I do not think I have spoken to either of you directly before but I am familiar with your work.
When we begin the engagement I will ask members and witnesses to mute themselves while not contributing so we do not pick up any background noise or feedback. I also ask that they use the button to raise their hands when they wish to contribute. As usual, I remind all those in attendance to ensure their mobile phones are on silent or are switched off to avoid interference.
Before we take the opening statements, I want to advise members and witnesses of the following in relation to parliamentary privilege. Witnesses and members should note there is a long-standing parliamentary practice that they should not criticise or make charges against any person or entity by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable or otherwise engage in speech that might be regarded as damaging to the good name of a person or entity. Therefore, if witnesses' statements are potentially defamatory in relation to an identifiable person or entity, they will be directed to discontinue their remarks. It is imperative they comply with any such directive if given by the Chair.
For witnesses attending remotely outside of the Leinster House campus, there are some limitations to parliamentary privilege and, as such, they may not benefit from immunity from legal proceedings as a witness who is physically present does. It is an unavoidable part of the Covid pandemic that we are having virtual committee hearings, but unfortunately it limits the privilege witnesses can enjoy. We are where we are in terms of the pandemic. Witnesses participating in this committee session from a jurisdiction outside of the State are advised they should also be mindful of their domestic law and how it may apply to any evidence they may give.
Members are reminded of the long-standing parliamentary practice to the effect that they should not comment on, criticise or make charges against a person outside of the House or an official either by name or in such a way as to make him, her or it identifiable. For members who are participating remotely, I ask them to keep their devices on mute until they are asked to speak. When speaking they should have their camera switched on and be mindful we are in public session, and when they are not speaking they should please mute themselves again.
In addition I remind members of the constitutional requirements that they must be physically present within the confines of the place in which the Parliament has chosen to sit, namely, Leinster House, to participate in public meetings. I will not permit a member to participate where he or she is not adhering to this constitutional requirement. Therefore, any member who attempts to participate in the meeting from outside of the precinct will be refused. We know the position in terms of the interpretation of the Constitution that the Houses of the Oireachtas have directed.
I remind members and witnesses that they should respect and strictly adhere to the subject matter scheduled for discussion today. Any deviation on this topic will rest with the Chair. We have an agenda, a topic and have received witness statements in advance. I ask members to confine their questions and engagement to those topics. Unfortunately, it is not permitted to stray into wider affairs because of a variety of decisions, Standing Orders, etc.
The provisions of Standing Orders in relation to matters which are sub judice place an onus on members to avoid, if at all possible, comment which might, in effect, prejudice the outcome of any legal proceedings which may be in being.
Therefore, I will not permit discussion or questioning that relates to current litigation. I will take all that as noted by all participants. I thank them for their attention.
The format of the meeting is that we will have two sessions with, effectively, two parties in each session. I will invite each witness or organisation to make an opening statement to a maximum of five minutes. Once the opening statements have been delivered, I will call on members in the order they indicate to put their questions. We will have one round of questions and, if time permits, a second round of follow-up questions. Unfortunately, the duration of the meeting is limited to two hours, as is the norm at the moment with the pandemic, etc., so I ask all participants to be as focused as possible in their contributions.
With those preliminaries addressed, I am delighted to call on our guests to deliver their opening statements. Mr. Schrems has the honour of going first. He is very welcome. I look forward to the engagement with him.