Data-sets with personal information

We discussed examples excerpted from a previous survey. The linked document has more information and references:

Birth dates as part of official declarations of income and assets in Poland (for some groups of citizens inc public servants & MPs & MEPs)

In Poland all the people who are requested to submit the official declarations of income and assets, and there is a need to fill in the space for year of birth.  More information on this can be found on the official template here (Polish only), for example who is required  to and whose declarations are disclosed to the public.

The public disclosure means obligation of uploading yearly the declarations on the Public Information Bulletin (BIP) website of the public administration body relevant for the given person. This doesn’t mean however that the data is open, because most of the declaration is handwritten (nobody knows why, there is no obligation for it) and then scanned and uploaded as a bitmap (see, for example, MEP Adam Bielan’s declaration).

Only the declarations of MPs and MEPs were digitised by a NGO Association 61 on their ‘I have the right to know’ project. For example: this MP website and this digitised declaration from 2009-2011 (XLS) – which includes his date of birth.

Group 3:

  • depends on purpose. this is purpose = detect conflict of interest, and the info is selected based on what’s needed for that purpose and no more
  • of course info once released may be used for other purposes 🙂 Personal information about parliamentary candidates in Canada:

The Parliament of Canada publishes date and place of birth, previous occupation and biographical notes about members of parliament. In jurisdictions with French content, even without an explicit gender field, it is possible to determine gender based on gender agreement of the nouns and adjectives used to describe the person. Many officials at various levels of government use a personal address and phone number as their constituency address.

Group 1

Politicians and more senior public officials are seen to give up some privacy for accountability, but the degree of privacy they can expect and be entitled to despite being politicans is an open question – differs across jurisdictionsInteresting the cultural difference, where Francophone reveal more – but should the gender of a candidate be secret anyway?

Does it include income declaration? This is the trend. Some politicians elsewhere use personal email address to avoid scrutiny and access to communication under freedom of information requests, but in places like the UK under FOI personal addresses are not exempt if used for official purposes

In some cases friends and families hide assets for corrupt public figures, how far do we go in extending the obligation to open up?

Group 2

  • home addresses is a bit much – govts should provide ways to reach candidates other than this

Full names and dates of births for property owners in the Netherlands

The Dutch cadastral data includes full name and date of birth of the property owner, next to data on the building and the buying price. My hometown makes all of that available through the city council website. As an explorer web service, not as data (bulk) to download though.

It needs to be possible to establish ownership of real estate clearly. There is a law on the cadastral office that specifically makes personal data in cadastral data an exception to data protection requirements. Much as with the company register.

It predates reuse and bulk availability though. I am sure that as cadastral data will become more open (the ministry is e.g. demolishing current revenue models around the data, and full openness is mandated before 2015) there will be more discussion on data protection in the context of reuse. Although I suspect the onus there will be on the reuser, not on the dataholder.

Group 3: assuming many people own their own homes, this means home addresses + names published, which is a risk for some sections of population. (discrimination in effect). If the alternative is a register you can access via a lawyer, then you discriminate in access. Rich people get lots of access to info, poor people do not -weigh against benefits – need to be able to look up who owns piece of land. Does that mean we need a public register or the ability to get the info?

Group 1:

  • agree good reasons for transparency, but issues of power and who can benefit most from digitisation
  • in some countries there is purpose limitation, you can acces cadastral data but not for marketing e.g. it should not be fully open
  • but how do you prevent this? technical measures? what if it gets mixed with other sources database concept is outdated!

Group 7:

The function of the cadastral database was brieflie discussed. Unlike for example England, ownership of property is not established through an uninterrupted string of title deeds, but through registration of title deeds in a (now centralised) cadastral database. It is not the title deed that gives the legal effect of transfer of property, but its registration in the database.

There was agreement that there are good reasons to include the name of the property owner, the inclusion of the last selling price in the register was not perceived as problematic either. The inclusion of the date of birth of the property owner does not serve any evident purpose other than as a (semi-)unique identifier in case of owners with the same names.

Wealth records of public officials in Indonesia

The Indonesian government publishes information about the personal wealth of over 4000 public officials as part of its anti-corruption programme.

Group 3: Is it necessary and proportionate?

Personal data included in bankruptcy filings, civil and criminal records in Hong Kong

Public personal data here means civil and criminal litigation records and personal bankruptcy filings. These are data of a personal nature that is freely available to the public if a member of the public goes to the courthouse and look it up in paper registry records. The records include name and partial Hong Kong Identity Card number. Some of these records would include other personal details such as address, date-of-birth, spouse name and so on. In some cases there is a very small fee to get the ‘daily record’ of cases in court that day.

Group 3: Time limits important here, could one restrict access after a certain time. it’s not about deletion but about access. Question about sharing and access even within police depts in UK. eg removal from national database but kept in local databases- history & science use when it’s later vs personal data about a living person

Group 6: The means of access has a huge role to play in privacy. Even though data may be the same data, different access methods may requires different privacy controls.  No clear line on right to be forgotten. Feel that generally should be able to be forgotten by the public, but controlled access by certain bodies to history could be OK. There is no clear answer line to what bodies are OK and what aren’t.

Group 4:

Public personal data here means civil and criminal litigation records and personal bankruptcy filings.” ECJ case – privacy matters over time – relevant journalistic practice in 1997 may not be relevant in 2014. different expectation of privacy 10 years afcter it happened than 2 days.

Building in controls over subsequent digitisation. Some kind of appeal process, based on making case for legitimate interest. Could define legitimate interest negatively – e.g. you won’t do this or that.

In this case, even with use restriction, this record shouldn’t be made available openly.

It’s important to find a way to communicate other restrictions that may apply even if there is an open license. Open data movement needs to communicate data protection restrictions within the context of their main aims (i.e. transparency, empowerment, etc.), and not as a barrier.

In the context of Sweden, Data protection and privacy being used as an excuse only becomes an issue where public officials are trying to obscure themselves. E.g. they might not say which people were at which meetings, but they choose how this is disclosed. Other than this, you don’t have a means of protesting or finding out.

In Sweden its been difficult to release data that isn’t personal, but the government is selling it. Whereas accessing personal data is relatively easy.

Maybe a starred warning system to accompany datasets that might invoke DP principles just by downloading them.

Developing appropriate redress mechanisms, e.g. after releasing data you shouldn’t have? So Open community need to engage with this. Different levels of re-use? e.g. car owner registry. To some degree you need someone else to take on that responsibilty, too much burden on individuals. If you have a question you can ask (not just the ICO) but some other person (maybe an ombudsmen?). Â Very often persons can’t protect their data (because they have to give their data to government). In the context of aid, there’s lots of data out there but no one uses it. Supply-driven, but most people aren’t trying to solve development problems with data. The word ‘privacy’ or ‘data protection’ is used as an excuse. So how to get around that without devaluing privacy.

Household income and asset declarations from public officials in Georgia

Georgia has a very extensive requirement for public officials to disclose their assets and income of their whole household, including data on the names and birth dates of their household members (usually spouse and children), going into details like the number plates on the cars the household has or the banks the household has accounts with. In this regard, the public interest has been valued higher than privacy.

In Georgia, dates of birth and ID numbers are very important, as there are fairly few first and last names, and there are often dozens of people who have the same name, so birthday and/or ID is an important identifier. The asset declarations are available in English. There remains some room for improvement, we have asked the agency to add ID numbers of individuals and companies so that we can verify records with other public records, and they are likely to add these details in the coming months.

Group 3: Tough around family members who may have no link with public office; but equally obvious route for corrupt officials to use family members to launder funds -reporting to an intermediary institution, rather than public, doesn’t help as the institution could be corrupt. Need external third party analysis -if you are opting into public life, you are choosing this, you should discuss with family and be aware of public scrutiny

Group 6:  Initially couldn’t see the utility of releasing this data; were concerned that people who hadn’t made the active decision to work in public office were having their data released, potentially without their consent.  Assumed that this was to help combat corruption. Felt that ‘Emergency’ or specials situations like this could sometimes warrant exceptions to privacy. Discussed example of an infectious disease, where release of peoples location data could help control the spread.

Personal information in ethics disclosure systems in the US- both intentional and unintentional

In the US, the Congressional Bioguide might be of interest. We use their identifiers as a hub for a lot of our legislative data work. There are many, many ethics disclosure systems that collect and redistribute personal information from public officials as well. California’s Form 700 is an example. The real devil is in the unstructured disclosure fields. We’ve seen this recently in the FCC’s political file database, which brought already-public but previously-inconvenient data into electronic form. In this case, that included not only PII but scans of checks, the account and routing numbers from which could be used fraudulently. Â You do occasionally see PII in structured fields — the USASpending.gov datasets leaking SSNs from agencies that unwisely used them as award identifiers for grant recipients is one example — but in my experience it’s the bags of text where problems really crop up. PII concerns are a strong argument for mandating structured disclosure, I think 🙂

Group 3: Processes of related stuff eg agencies should be reviewed!

UK company directors’ dates of birth

Company directors in the UK has been the classic example of personal information published as part of the public record. My date of birth can be found on public websites, because I’m a company director.

Personal information from UK government employees, GPs, planning applicants

UK government employees names and salary bands are published as part of the UK government’s organogram.

The National Health Service publishes the full names of all GPs, and the dates that they joined practice.

Planning applications also contain the name and address of home owners, and may result in the publication of correspondence including email addresses of the applicant and/or their agent.

Group 3: They should black out email addresses in correspondence

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