Author Archives: Simon McGarr
Catherine Murphy TD has done the nation much service in her time in the Dáil. Her most recent efforts to extract information from the State apparatus may have as great an impact as anything she has done. The Social Democrats leader set down a series of Parliamentary questions, asking Ministers if they were aware of the CJEU’s recent Bara judgment and if their Departments had undertaken any database building projects which were effected by it. (Here’s a snappy explainer on […]
I have previously written about why I think the CJEU’s Bara Judgment makes Section 8 of the underlying Health Identifier Act illegal. (This is the Section that allows the state to try to pool the info they hold on citizens in other databases to populate this new one.) An FOI reply has now been sent on to me about the Individual Health Identifier scheme. I am surprised to see an acknowledgement that, despite the extreme sensitivity in creating a new database […]
The Irish State loves a good database, as regular readers will know. I was doing the washing up recently, listening to the video of a recent event in TCD’s Science Gallery when I heard about the latest one. A store of electronic health records for women and infants, starting in four maternity hospitals in the new year. This is a subsection of the wider eHealth project being run by the HSE, which also includes the Individual Health Identifier database system. […]
Max Schrems took his case when the Irish Data Protection Commissioner refused to accept his complaint that Facebook was transferring his data to the US, where he did not believe it was being treated in accordance with EU data protection law. The Commissioner rejected the complaint on the basis that it was “frivolous and vexatious” as they had no power to second-guess a EU commission decision that the Safe Harbour scheme between the EU and US provided ‘adequate’ protection. Today, the […]
Irish Government database plans may need revision after the CJEU’s Bara ruling.
Sometimes looking at these files, you can understand that it would be a bad decision to release them. In particular, the files from An Garda Síochána are going to contain sensitive material. And, files containing Criminal Intelligence Reports (presumably, though I’m no expert, including data from informers) must surely be some of the most sensitive. And yet.. and yet. The National Archives Act allows that a file can hold both sensitive and non-sensitive historical records and, for a S8(4) certificate […]
Part of the reason I asked for these files was because I was curious as to how reflexively the state would want to keep things secret. The thirty year rule was set so that we could understand our own recent history and historians could, in future, make sense of the broader narrative of the State’s development. In a way, from my small 4-year sample, there’s an indication that, at least when it comes to historical documents, most departments aren’t trying […]
I’m not sure I really need to say much more than that here. Seriously, a secret Shergar file, from the Irish Embassy in London. Who could resist? The info in file 3/175 runs from 1983 to 1984. I guess, seeing as Iveagh House isn’t going to tell us, we’ll have to rely on Tesco to spill the beans.
Dealing with these files sometimes throws up questions of balance. After all, you can see why personal data relating to job inquiries or sometimes even sensitive family matters such as adoptions shouldn’t be released heedlessly into the public domain. But in 2013 the Department of Foreign Affairs decided that file 250/1048, containing “Meteorological Data” covering the years 1953-1981 should be kept secret. The Certificate cites Section 8(4)(a) which requires that the file being withheld shouldn’t be released because it (a) would […]
This is doubtless just your standard fertiliser to make daffodils and such bloom even more lovely. It’s just that, for whatever reason, the Department of Justice thinks that the details of what happened between 1978 and 1981 when they explored the manufacturing of fertiliser by getting the army to test it are still not ready to see the light of day, some thirty years later.