Government forum to discuss increasing use of personal data

Apple, Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook all have representatives in the new forum

Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy said the new forum would deal with the opportunities and challenges posed by the increasing use of personal data.

Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy said the new forum would deal with the opportunities and challenges posed by the increasing use of personal data.

 

Challenges in dealing with the increased generation and use of personal information will be the focus of a new advisory group to the Government, which held its first meeting on Tuesday.

Minister for European Affairs and Data Protection Dara Murphy announced the membership of the Government Data Forum ahead of the first meeting in Dublin.

He said he had established the body to advise Government on “opportunities and challenges arising from the growth of the digital economy, in particular those arising from continuing growth in the generation and use of personal data”.

Mr Murphy will chair the forum. Members were selected following a request for expressions of interest last May.

They are drawn from industry, the public sector, academic disciplines and civil society groups.

“With the ever-increasing digitisation of almost every facet of modern life, we’re seeing a rapid increase in the amount of data generated by us and about us as individuals,” Mr Murphy said.

“As technology continues to develop, new norms are continually being established across society in terms of its use.”

The Minister said huge opportunities existed for the “smart use of data to make a significant contribution to economic development and job creation, to improve people’s lives, and to enhance society’s response to many of the challenges we face, in areas such as health, education or the environment”.

“A key challenge is continuing to ensure that we safeguard personal information, privacy and fundamental rights – giving individuals confidence that their personal data is protected.”

The forum, the Minister said, was an “exciting opportunity” to add value to the public debate on technological developments and what they meant for society and individuals.

“The forum will advise on the societal issues arising from the continuing growth in the generation and use of personal data, and more broadly, on the opportunities and challenges arising from the growth of the digital economy.”

Mr Murphy said it was the Government’s objective for Ireland to be a leader on data protection and data-related issues.

The members of the forum include Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon, John Barron, chief technology officer with the Revenue Commissioners, Seamus Carroll, head of civil law reform division at the Department of Justice and Tim Duggan, assistant secretary with the Department of Social Protection.

Gary Davis, director of privacy and law enforcement requests with Apple, is also on the forum. Mr Davis is a former deputy data protection commissioner in Ireland.

There are also representatives from Google, Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook, from the IDA, the Law Society and the National Statistics Board.

Chair of Digital Rights Ireland Dr TJ McIntyre and Dr Eoin O’Dell, associate professor, School of Law, Trinity College Dublin are also on the voluntary forum.