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Access to data

12 May 2023 / EU Print

Who’s been checking your data?

Everyone has the right to know to whom their personal data has been disclosed. Duncan Grehan assesses the impact of a recent judgment on access to data.

A recent EU Court of Justice judgment raises challenging and numerous issues about access to data in Ireland’s public registers and whether ‘personal data’ includes data on third-party queries about the immoveable and moveable property of the owner.

The official press release issued just after the 12 January ruling in Case C-154/21, RW v Österreichische Post AG states: “In today’s judgment, the court replies that, where personal data have been or will be disclosed to recipients, there is an obligation on the part of the controller to provide the data subject, on request, with the actual identity of those recipients. It is only where it is not (yet) possible to identify those recipients that the controller may indicate only the categories of recipient in question.

That is also the case where the controller demonstrates that the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive. The court points out that the data subject’s right of access is necessary to enable the data subject to exercise other rights conferred by the GDPR, namely his or her right to rectification, right to erasure (‘right to be forgotten’), right to restriction of processing, right to object to processing, or right of action where he or she suffers damage.”

The ruling raises a number of issues.

First, what right to access the identity details about searches and searchers – or, at least, categories of searches – in the Land Register is available? Will one be given details of all searches made about one’s real estate, irrespective of whether “the request is manifestly unfounded or excessive”?

The official website of the Property Registration Authority (Landdirect.ie) provides no such access, nor a statement that it is available as of right, nor any reason why it is unavailable. So one cannot find out who has searched, when the search was made, and for what was searched.

Second, what similar classes of detail are stated by the registers’ portals as available as of right on request from all statutory registers, such as from the registers of the Companies Registration Office (www.cro.ie) or of the Intellectual Property Office of Ireland (www.ipoi.gov.ie)?

Read and print a PDF of this article here.

Duncan Grehan
Duncan Grehan is a solicitor and member of the Law Society’s EU and International Affairs Committee