the Irish for rights

We need a Privacy Bill, just not this one

Image of Examiner op-edThe drumbeats for privacy legislation can once again be heard around Leinster House. I did a radio interview with Matt Cooper on Today FM’s The Last Word yesterday evening; and I have an op-ed about it in today’s Irish Examiner:

Flawed privacy bill offers us no protection

… the bill is unnecessary to cover the publication of the topless photographs, as Irish law already provides a remedy. Worse, the bill goes too far in dealing with press invasions of privacy; and it fails to deal with many other important aspects of privacy. …

A privacy bill is necessary. However, the one being proposed by the minister is not it. It will need a lot of work if it is to protect our privacy properly.

Links: here are some links to the cases and materials to which I refer in the article:

The Privacy Bill, 2006 is here. An op-ed I wrote at the time is here.

The Minister’s Press Release is here.

I have blogged about the photograph of the GAA player, Sinnott v Carlow Nationalist, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

The nursing home case is Cogley v RTÉ [2005] 4 IR 79, [2005] IEHC 180 (8 June 2005).

The case relating to the priest’s affair is Herrity v Associated Newspapers [2008] IEHC 249 (18 July 2008)),

I blogged about the Minister’s comments last March here, republished here.

The revised Privacy Bill, 2012 introduced by Senator Norris is here.

The Data Protection Commissioner’s website is here.

CCTV in Ireland is overseen by the Department of Justice.

A model for the Privacy Commissioner discussed in the article is the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada.

Bonus links: (i) other pieces in the Irish Examiner:

Colette Browne: Let’s dispense with hypocrisy over publication of Kate’s topless photos

Juno McEnroe: Shatter vows to put end to ‘creepy keyhole journalism’

Bonus links: (ii) similar pieces in the Irish Times:

Jennifer O’Connell: Fascination with Kate’s breasts and Karen’s clothes makes idiots of us all

Vincent Browne: Media continues to fail to hold powerful to account

Editorial 1: A discredited Bill

Editorial 2: DNA database

I think there is an irony in the alignment of these two editorials. I agree with the first editorial that the Privacy Bill is discredited and “a serious attack on the freedom of the press” which would “become a vehicle simply for the rich and powerful … secretly to muzzle press investigation”. But there is no recognition in the second editorial that a DNA database raises profound privacy concerns. A modern DNA database may indeed represent a necessary investment in crime detection, but it is also an example of the real challenges to privacy posed by the power of the State.

One Response to “We need a Privacy Bill, just not this one”

  1. As a geneticist, the idea of a DNA database helping to solve crime in any way is laughable. Not only are they a massive invasion of orivacy and personal bodily integrity, they provide a route to false incrimination on a massive scale.

    The supposed reliability and conclusiveness of dna fingerprinting is based on the assumption of a perfect, reproducible result, but the methods used are infamously prone to error and irregularity, even by experienced users.

    The standards applied to DNA as evidence are also laughably terrible; take Amanda Knox, who nearly was sent to prison for first degree murder on the basis that her DNA was on the murder weapon…a kitchen knife that she and her deceased roommate would have handled every day. Common sense abandons juries and prosecutors when ‘DNA’ is evoked.

    Add to that the trivial ease with which I could forge a DNA fingerprint for someone else, and you have a recipe for disaster.

    So, don’t apologise for DNA databases by buying the hype. They offer only the impression of solving crime, but instead elevate a decent ancillary form of evidence to judge-and-jury status. We must not allow one to be created or used here.

Leave a Reply



Me in a hatHi there! Thanks for dropping by. I’m Eoin O’Dell, and this is my blog: Cearta.ie – the Irish for rights.

“Cearta” really is the Irish word for rights, so the title provides a good sense of the scope of this blog.

In general, I write here about private law, free speech, and cyber law; and, in particular, I write about Irish law and education policy.

Academic links


  • RSS Feed
  • RSS Feed
  • Subscribe via Email
  • Twitter
  • LinkedIn

Archives by month

Categories by topic

My recent tweets

Blogroll (or, really, a non-blogroll)

What I'd like for here is a simple widget that takes the list of feeds from my existing RSS reader and displays it here as a blogroll. Nothing fancy. I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

I had built a blogroll here on my Google Reader RSS subscriptions. Google Reader produced a line of html for each RSS subscription category, each of which I pasted here. So I had a list of my subscriptions as my blogroll, organised by category, which updated whenever I edited Google Reader. Easy peasy. However, with the sad and unnecessary demise of that product, so also went this blogroll. Please take a moment to mourn Google Reader. If there's an RSS reader which provides a line of html for the list of subscriptions, or for each RSS subscription category as Google Reader did, I'd happily use that. So, as I've already begged, I'd love a recommendation, if you have one.

Meanwhile, please bear with me until I find a new RSS+Blogroll solution




Creative Commons License

This blog is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. I am happy for you to reuse and adapt my content, provided that you attribute it to me, and do not use it commercially. Thanks. Eoin

Credit where it’s due

The image in the banner above is a detail from a photograph of the front of Trinity College Dublin night taken by Melanie May.

Others whose technical advice and help have proven invaluable in keeping this show on the road include Dermot Frost, Karlin Lillington, Daithí Mac Síthigh, and Antoin Ó Lachtnáin.

Thanks to Blacknight for hosting.