Don’t blame data protection law for directory errors – ‘concerned’ regulator

SURE is wrong when it says that data protection laws are responsible for errors in its new directory, the Office of the Data Protection Authority has said.

Data protection commissioner Emma Martins. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 25896697)
Data protection commissioner Emma Martins. (Picture by Adrian Miller, 25896697)

And data protection commissioner Emma Martins said she was ‘very concerned’ about potential risks posed to those who wished to be ex-directory but have had their details published in the book.

‘Data protection is entirely about protecting people,’ said Ms Martins.

‘I am very concerned that it would appear a number of ex-directory phone numbers have been published in error.

‘Some people rely on ex-directory status for their personal safety so exposing their personal data in this way can be very distressing, and potentially puts them at risk,’ she said.

‘ODPA is aware of several inaccuracies, omissions, and previously ex-directory entries in the 2019 Sure Directory with data protection being cited, it would appear, as a reason for some of these issues,’ said a spokesman.

The spokesman said data protection laws did not explain the changes.

‘The legal requirement for personal data to be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date has been a feature of data protection legislation since the Bailiwick’s first law in 1986.

‘The GDPR-equivalent local law that came into effect in 2018 does not require Sure to alter their previous practice of allowing customers to specify how their entry appears in the directory and it is not clear why the new law has been cited as a reason for the change in approach.’

The spokesman said Sure, and a number of their concerned customers, had told the ODPA that previously ex-directory numbers had been included in the 2019 directory.

‘This is contrary, it would seem, to customers’ previously advised instructions to Sure,’ they said.

Any Sure customers affected are asked to contact the company in the first instance.

Head of consumer at Sure Mike Fawkner-Corbett said that, to date, about 50 customers had requested changes to their directory entry for the next book.

‘This is an increase on previous years due to the change in format and data structure. There are over 35,000 landline services and over 60,000 mobile services in Guernsey.’

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