Household Charge Data Sharing 'Disturbing'

The DATA Protection Commissioner has expressed concern about the accessing of home owners’ utility bill information in order to collect the new €100 household charge.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Billy Hawkes said the use of homeowner's utility details was a “disturbing development” and that any access to information from ESB or other bills should be minimal.

The controversy surrounds the use of the Household Charge Board's ability to use utility bills to find out information on homeowners who would be liable to pay the €100 charge, which was announced in last year's budget. Currently, homeowners have to register their names in order to be charged the fee.

However, Environment Minister Phil Hogan has stated the Household Charge website adheres to the required data protection and privacy standards.

Although noting the Data Protection Commissioner had "indicated some issues" he assured the public that such issues would be "addressed immediately".

The Minister said no data sharing between relevant data holders will take place in advance of the "protocol and the agreement of the relevant modalities" with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Minister Hogan welcomed the fact that over €1 million has already been collected in the first four days of operation of the Household Charge and that over 10,000 properties were registered.

"I would like to acknowledge and thank the 10,000 who have registered their properties and paid the charge at this early stage. The large numbers of people paying the charge is a clear indication of compliance with the legislation and the acceptance that the Household Charge is necessary to fund vital local services in our communities."


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