Prison service to appeal ruling that it is illegal to make staff use thumbprint to open gates
Data Protection Commission had found there was a breach of GDPR laws
A prison officer at Castlerea prison made a protected disclosure to the Data Protection Commission which investigated the matter
November 13 2020 02:30 AM
The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is to appeal a finding by the data watchdog that it is illegally compelling prison officers to provide thumbprints to operate prison security systems.
Last month in a 17-page ruling, the Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon found the IPS had not established a legal basis for the processing of biometric data where a prison officer was required to provide thumbprints in order to open security gates at Castlerea prison.
Ms Dixon found the processing of the relevant biometric data of the prison officer in connection with the set-up and operation of the relevant key vending system in Castlerea Prison is unlawful.
Officers in two prisons must provide thumbprints in order to open security gates within the prisons as part of a system that was originally designed to be rolled out for all 13 prisons in the State.
The prison officer at Castlerea complained that the provision of his biometric data through the thumbprint was contrary to GDPR laws.
The prison officer made a protected disclosure to the Data Protection Commission (DPC), which investigated the matter and issued its ruling.
In a written Dáil reply to Solidarity People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny on the issue, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said that following an examination of the DPC findings and further to the advice of the Attorney General’s office “a decision has now been taken to bring an appeal on certain aspects of those findings to the High Court”.
Ms McEntee said: “In light of this, it would not be appropriate to comment any further at this time.”
She stated the letter from the DPC to the IPS constitutes preliminary findings rather than a decision.
“Other findings of the Commission and specific directions to IPS are not being appealed however, and I am further informed that the IPS is taking steps to comply with the directions of the DPC in that regard,” Ms McEntee said
She pointed out that biometric data “is processed in limited circumstances by the IPS