Data protection gone mad?

Sir, – Further to Bob Frewen's letter regarding the small-minded decision of the Data Protection Commission to remove old electoral registers from the excellent Dublin Heritage website (August 17th), I wrote to it myself to object. The first draft contained a list of other more recent genealogical material. But then I removed this reference; there is no need to give it further ammunition.

There is surely a case to be made for allowing the first half of these electoral registers back online, given that most of the people eligible to vote in the 1940s would be dead by now.

Data has to move with the times, and the 20th-century’s archive of information will be the most accessible yet (all typed and alphabetised). This does not invalidate it as a public resource. – Yours, etc,




Co Dublin.

Sir, – Bob Frewen rightly questions the impact of the role of the Data Protection Commission. The same body has recently blocked elected councillors from exercising our duty to monitor the integrity of the housing allocation system of Dublin City Council. This role traditionally meant scrutiny after decisions on allocations by the executive and involves no role in the actual allocation of housing units. This blocking of scrutiny does not serve the system or citizens well, and in my view was an overzealous and ill-informed intervention.

The same rules were recently invoked to refuse electoral register information from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

It is long past time for the Data Protection Commission to exercise a degree of common sense and for a massive reduction in its nonsensical powers. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 4.

Sir, – Further to recent correspondence on access to digitised archives, your readers could try the National Security Agency in the US. It has been known to take a keen interest in Irish data. – Yours, etc,



Co Wicklow.