Wednesday, 6 February 2019

Questions (167)

Michael Healy-Rae

Question:

167. Deputy Michael Healy-Rae asked the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine the way in which a person (details supplied) obtained a private telephone number; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5928/19]

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Written answers (Question to Agriculture)

The Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine (DAFM) is committed to the protection of all personal data under its control and is cognisant of the obligations placed on it, not only by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) but also the 2018 Data Protection Act and the Law Enforcement Directive. My Department has a dedicated Data Protection Unit in place since November 2015, which has been promoting Data Protection and GDPR awareness since its inception. This Unit actively informs all staff of their obligations under GDPR, utilising our internal communications systems, circulating easy read guides, FAQs, updates via email, poster campaigns, targeted Data Protection seminars and training courses.

My Department is aware equally of its responsibilities arising from the Animal Health and Welfare legislation.

The person named was recently the subject of a regulatory herd test under the Animal Health and Welfare (Bovine Tuberculosis) Regulation SI 58/2015. The results of this test meant that it was necessary for my Department to withdraw the freedom to trade status from the herd of the person named. A Department official in seeking to contact the person named to inform him of this finding, identified that the number recorded on the Department’s Corporate Customer System was no longer in use by the person named. Disease control is a paramount responsibility of Department veterinary officials and therefore the official concerned deemed it essential, in this instance, to obtain the most up to date contact details of the person named to ensure the prevention of any unnecessary spread of disease.

The official, mindful of data protection requirements, ensured that no personal data passed from my Department to the third party from whom the number was obtained. Advice sought from the Irish Data Protection Commission confirmed this was acceptable in the circumstances as set out above. The details were used only in this instance.

The Data Protection Officer of my department has written to the named person, outlining the steps taken by the Department official in this incident and informing the person named that it would be advisable for him to update his contact information with my Department.