GDPR Concerns Temporarily Result In The Removal Of Trash Cans From Ireland Post Office

from the that's-some-fine-regulation-you-got-there,-EU dept

The regulatory nightmare known as GDPR continues to wreak havoc. The data privacy law enacted by the European Union has possibly helped protect the data of Europeans, but the thick cloud of smoke rising from the collateral damage makes it impossible to say for sure.

Regulating the internet isn't as simple as the EU Parliament thought it would be. The first reaction many US sites had to the new law was to block every user appearing to originate from a covered country. The EU Parliament couldn't even comply with GDPR properly. Its own website didn't anonymize incoming users correctly, allowing the Parliament's site to hoover up IP addresses to send through to Google Analytics. The EU Commission responded to this gaffe by exempting itself from the law.

Meanwhile, European citizens were experiencing the downsides of mandated data export. The law requires all user data collected by tech companies to be available on demand to European internet users. In theory, a wonderful idea. In practice, it means if someone hacks one of your accounts, they can start requesting your data as well. Even without being hacked, your personal data can be sent to someone else because tech companies are just as prone to clerical errors as anyone else.

This latest incident is more of the same. Another debacle powered by GDPR. This time, the problem created wasn't composed of 1s and 0s. This time the side effects could be felt physically.

All public bins have been removed from the GPO [General Post Office] due to potential privacy breaches under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

Customers and visitors to the historic building will no longer be able to dispose their litter within the premises.

An Post says under the new privacy laws, even rubbish containing personal details is considered their responsibility.

For this reason, a decision was taken to remove every bin from the post office’s main hall.

The problem? Post office customers were tossing out unwanted mail and receipts -- all of which contained confidential personal data now regulated by GDPR. The post office's solution was to remove its inadvertent data collection facilities, which apparently led to people leaving their regulated data lying on the office's counters and floors.

Fortunately, this new normal for post office users was swiftly reverted back to the old normal. The Commissioner of the Office of Data Protection issued a clarifying statement on post offices, rubbish bins, and protecting the privacy of post office customers.

When contacted this evening, a spokesperson for the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner told that "under no circumstances" could public litter be in breach of GDPR.

Great. Glad that's cleared up. Business as usual then?

“An Post have confirmed a number of outstanding issues around the handling of waste material from public litter bins in the GPO,” a spokesperson said.

“The bins had been removed from the public office of the GPO on a trial basis and have now been re-instated,” he said.


This is the stupid world the EU Parliament has gifted us. A breathtakingly broad law that regulates every entity that might possess the personal information of others has, however briefly, resulted in the removal of trash cans to ensure compliance. This may be the dumbest collateral damage yet, but it certainly won't be the last.

Filed Under: data protection, gdpr, ireland, irish post office, trash cans

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 May 2019 @ 4:28pm

    Re: Re:

    Well, I see it from another angle, a creative one I guess.

    Since I know that humans can be petty, vindictive, greedy, and all of those fine qualities, I would better entrust the wisdom of experts + the wisdom of crowds combined in an electronic system designed to weed out the overtly negative aspects of it, but only as minimally as needed.

    In short, I want to live in a world where only "worth" and "popularity" are the arbiters of what has to be worthy and popular. And I surely don't want any human gatekeeper to interfere in this process. I don't want any gatekeeper to decide what has the right to be shown/played and what not. I want every individual or entity to be able to express him/her/itself, without anyone impinging on their right to do so.

    The evidence at disposal shows that the recording industry, for example, exercises this gatekeeping business at the highest levels. How many artists send demos and are rejected? How many are swindled into signing an exclusive contract with a label which doesn't even release their music afterwards, and just because they are deemed too much of a competition to have around? How many are signed, released, and then not paid their due royalties?

    I think that, as long as there will be humans around entrusted with the right to dictate and decide over the creative aspects of other humans, this situation will only persevere. Things like Article 13/17 are a huge step in the wrong direction. I don't need no gatekeeper to decide what I have to listen to. People might find a human reviewer useful, who helps to show how to part the wheat from the chaff, and this is welcomed and such a reviewer has all the rights to exist, but in no case shall such reviewer become a gatekeeper and be entrusted with the "right" to make others listen only to what he/she wants them to listen to.

    People must have the right to listen to whatever they want to listen to, and the conditions should be such that there is the widest availability and diversity of creative content available. The reviewer shall then pick the good fruits from this wealth of produce, comment them and show them to others, while having the freedom to criticize, even sternly, any fruit he/she doesn't appreciate, but always in a spirit of education and enlightenment. And I repeat, in no case the reviewer shall have the right to take a fruit and make it so that others won't be able to eat it, if willing.

    Of course you can extrapolate this consideration to any gatekeeper-ridden business, not only the music industry.

    This calls for more power to conscientious high-tech and new media companies, and less power to old-tech and human-mediated old media. We can argue whether Google, to say one name, is an example of this, and I'd argue that in many cases it doesn't seem like it (I think that the takeover of YouTube by Google has been a disaster, for example, and that YouTube was much better off before Google bought it and started interfering with it) but surely among the dumb things that Google has done you can find some good ones.

    The Internet was created for this: for anyone to express their opinion, or publish something creative or useful that they do, and on the other side, for people to find what they are actually interested in and choose what they really like over a variety of things. Hence, why are these new laws needed? We always have that clunky old one-way box in the living room telling most people what to think and what to be interested in.

    Unless, of course, the powers that be and old media are shitting their pants because a revolution is underway...

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