So, when the Minister comments on the retention of data about primary school children until they are 30 years old, and says that
“I did say I would examine it but it looks to me that up to the 30th birthday is probably appropriate and it satisfies the Data Commissioner as well which is obviously very important,”
it is really important to ask: What is the purpose for which this long a retention period is required?
...In my opinion, the Minster’s statement means that the Department are mis-understanding the role of the Data Protection Commissioner and what it means for the DPC to give an opinion on the appropriateness of processing.
...It’s also not the role of the DPC to correct the homework of a Government Department, and the new Commissioner Helen Dixon has made that exceptionally clear to Public sector representatives in at least two forums since November. Her role is to enforce the legislation and support the protection of fundamental data privacy rights of individuals and to be independent of Government (that’s a Treaty obligation by the way since 2009… and towards the end of his term Billy Hawkes the former Commissioner exercised that independence by, for example, prosecuting the Minister for Justice).
...The stance adopted by the Minister is not good. In the face of valid criticism she has adopted an entrenched position, clutching to the DPC as a shield rather than a fig leaf. Given the narrative arc in the Irish Water debacle that is, as Sir Humphrey Appleby would say, “Courageous Minister, very courageous”. (Data relating to children, “all cleared by the DPC”, challenge in public by knowledgeable experts, public disquiet, “DPC said it was OK”, immediate reverse ferret after a reshuffle… [we are at stage 3 now].)
Pausing. Assessing and defining an appropriate strategy for strategic use of data in education for statistical planning and centralisation of operational data, combined with an appropriate Privacy Impact Assessment that takes in to account recent rulings on necessity and proportionality by the CJEU would be advisable at this time.
Anything else is simply courageous, Minister.