Irish Lawmakers Realizing The GDPR's Consent Requirements Seem A Bit Onerous, Want To 'Infer' Consent

from the oh-wait,-that-takes-work dept

Once again, we find lawmakers who seemingly championed "strong privacy" rules like the GDPR suddenly freaking out when they realize such laws might apply to government bodies as well. Once again, we have Jason Smith at Indivigital to thank for highlighting the latest mess. This time it involves Irish lawmakers trying to figure out how different government agencies can share data between those agencies in order to provide better services. But, here's the problem: doing so without "consent" would seem to violate the basic concepts of the GDPR, so the Minister of State for Public Procurement, Open Government and eGovernment, Patrick O'Donovan, decided to try to take the easy way out and say that the government should be able to "infer" consent, if someone made use of the government service in the past:

“That principle is accepted. It is a once only principle where if a person is availing of a service, it could be inferred that there is consent already contained in that by virtue of the fact that they have presented themselves to look for that particular support or service from the State.”

Now, personally, I agree that this seems like a perfectly reasonable standard for inferring consent under most reasonable conditions. But the problem is that the GDPR generally does not view things that way. This is yet another example of where people who view privacy through a singular lens of "don't do anything at all with my data," often fail to realize how extreme that position is, and how it limits perfectly normal functions.

But, in this case, it comes across as just another example of where governments are saying, "do as I say, not as I do..."

Filed Under: consent, data privacy, data protection, eu, gdpr, ireland, patrick o'donovan, privacy


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  1. identicon
    Ed, 20 Jul 2018 @ 7:17pm

    Different if done on a computer?

    Years ago, I was doing some db work for a state public housing department in Australia. This involved identifying housing that required maintenance or refurbishing (anything from new kitchen to painting walls) and assigning that work to an approved contractor.

    One problem I remember was that the department rental agent would not let us go into certain houses. The reason was that they knew those were used by drug dealers and they were scared to go in there.

    Being a naive IT guy and not well versed in the public sector, I suggested telling the police. Oh no, I was told, we have strict privacy guidelines so we cannot do that.

    The privacy concerns were so onerous that I could not even obtain the tenants' names so that my we could send a personalised letter telling them that we were to do maintenance on the property. And that was sharing information within the same govt department.

    Now I don't know what the situation is in Ireland, but certainly in Australia govt departments have privacy guidelines that preclude sharing information.

    However, I would not be surprised if things are different for information gathered on the internet, because it's on a computer.

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