PROF FRIEL TALKS ON DATA PROTECTION, PRICE DISPLAYS AND THE REMOVAL OF AN AIRLINE PASSENGER
Prof Ray Friel was interviewed today on Limerick Today Live 95FM by host Joe Nash about data protection obligations, the display of petrol prices and the forcible removal of a United Airlines passenger.
Joe Nash asked Prof Friel about the obligations on clubs, societies, community organisations and volunteers when dealing with personal data. Friel pointed out that the rules on data protection apply to everyone who acquires personal information and not just the public sector or businesses. Any organisation who gathers personal data should do so in conformity with the law. That requires, in general terms, first, that an individual gives an informed consent to the information they are supplying being used for specific and limited purposes only. Second that the information sought is the minimum that is required to achieve the purpose for which the information was obtained. Third, that the information is used only for the purpose expressed when the consent was given and no other purpose. Fourth, that the information is securely stored and access is limited and controlled. Finally that the information must be deleted when it is no longer required. Joe pointed out several violations of data privacy by the HSE and asked whether there was a culture that did not understand privacy. Prof Friel agreed, saying that as a lawyer he was obsessive about privacy but his daughter who is a sonographer in Crumlin was in a culture where sharing information improved patient outcomes. At an ordinary level, the culture that privacy was not important would have to change, particularly in light of impending rules in 2018 on data protection.
Joe then asked Friel about the forcible removal of a United Airlines passenger. Friel replied that there were two elements to the situation: first the right of the airlines to remove passengers from the plane and second the method by which that is to achieved. United probably did, under the rules of the ticket and other statutory provisions, have the right to remove the passenger but the process of removal by airport security appears to have been heavy handed.
Finally Joe asked Friel to explain the rules vis-à-vis the display of petrol prices which were different than that which was being charged at the pump. Friel pointed out that this constituted misleading advertising which was a statutory offence. Further, the consumer could argue to be refunded the over-payment although on an average tank, every 1cent would amount only to 50-60 cents. Friel recommended bringing it the attention of the attendant, asking to be charged only the displayed price and if that did not happen send a complaint to the Competition and Consumer Protection Authority. Both agreed that of course the ultimate power for the consumer is to take their business elsewhere.