July 27, 2020
Louise O’Reilly TD writes to Data Protection Commissioner about legality of data processing of passengers travelling abroad

Louise OR' ReillySinn Féin spokesperson on Enterprise, Trade and Employment Louise O’Reilly has written to the Data Protection Commissioner about the recent collection and processing of passenger data at airports and seaports.

Teachta O’Reilly said: “Earlier today, I wrote to the Data Protection Commissioner regarding the recent collection and processing of passenger data collected at our airports and seaports.

“Recent reports that checks are being performed at airports in order to identify passengers on pandemic unemployment income supports and to stop payments if they holiday abroad highlights a worrying – and possibly illegal – development in the collection and processing of people’s data.

“While people should not be travelling abroad unless their journey is essential, it is disturbing to see Fine Gael once again attacking people in receipt of state welfare supports.

“Unsurprisingly, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar is leading the charge.

“It appears that data is being collected under the guise of being for immigration and/or public health surveillance reasons. But it has become apparent that it is being collected in order to punish anyone in receipt of the PUP who travel abroad, whatever their reason for doing so may be.

“The government need to confirm if this is their decision, what department and minister is responsible, why data is being collated about passengers going outside this jurisdiction, the legality of what has been done, for how long this has been ongoing, who is collecting the data and for what purpose, and who us holding on to this information.

“There are many questions which need to be answered about this situation, not least why the government have an obsession with punishing those on social welfare.

“The government also need to clarify whether Passenger Locator Forms have been used for the purpose of singling out social welfare recipients who travel abroad.

“If this has been done, then this raises many more questions.

“I do not expect any answers from the government as to what has happened here. As a result, I have written to the Data Protection Commissioner, Ms Helen Dixon, asking that she give her view on the legality of what has been reported.”

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