Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Questions (295)

Sean Conlan

Question:

295. Deputy Seán Conlan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality where a citizen's private data has been accessed by the Revenue Commissioners, An Garda Síochána or the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission who is the data controller responsible for the handling and management of the data; who has access to it; how, where and for how long it is stored; if it is necessary to make a new request each time a person's private data is accessed; if the data can be used for reasons other than the reason given for accessing it; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [3260/16]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I assume the Deputy is referring to the powers to access retained communications data governed by the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011. The data available under this Act is subscriber and traffic and location data - not the content of communications - and it may only be accessed by the relevant bodies empowered to do so, for the purposes prescribed and under the terms set out in the Act, and in accordance with the respective statutory duties of the bodies involved.

The Deputy should be aware that the Data Protection Commissioner is the national supervisory authority in respect of the 2011 Act - this is provided for at section 4(2) of the Act. The bodies who are entitled to access data under the 2011 Act are subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Acts according to their functions and 'data controller' is defined in law in the Data Protection Acts. The Data Protection Commissioner is independent in carrying out her functions.

I would emphasise to the Deputy Neither I nor my Department are involved in the process of requesting or authorising access to records under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011, nor do I or my Department have any information relating to requests made in the course of investigations. That would simply not be appropriate in the context of the independent functions of these bodies.