Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Revenue set up VIP unit (but don't the little people deserve privacy too?)

One recent story which didn't attract as much attention as it should have was the revelation that the Revenue have set up a special VIP unit to minimise leaks of confidential information about public figures. This emerged with the publication of an audit by the Data Protection Commissioner which found significant weaknesses in Revenue controls of data. (Weaknesses which still existed despite promised reforms after high profile scandals in 2005 and again in 2007.)

There's a lot of interesting material in that audit, but the VIP unit might well be the most significant. Although spun as a privacy friendly measure, it reflects a trend whereby in relation to privacy there is one law for them and one law for us. It would be unfortunate if this establishes a precedent for two tier protection in other departments also. Call me a cynic, but I suspect that effective privacy protection will only come about if the political classes find themselves exposed to the same risks as the rest of us.

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