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Dublin: 3 °C Friday 17 January, 2020

Visitor books will be returned to heritage sites after data protection concerns

The books were banned from sites such as Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol over data privacy concerns.

Visitor books will be returned to heritage sites.
Visitor books will be returned to heritage sites.
Image: Shutterstock/malgosia janicka

VISITOR BOOKS WILL be returned to heritage sites such as Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol after they were removed due to fears over data protection. 

The Office of Public Works (OPW) said it has “reviewed its approach” to banning visitor books at the start of the tourism season.

The books had been removed over fears of breaching the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The Data Commission called this move a “disproportionate approach to data protection principles”. It was also criticised by data consultants who called it “excessive”. 

“The Data Protection Commission has confirmed that our interpretation may have erred on the side of caution and that there is no legal risk,” said Frank Shalvey, head of OPW’s visitor services division in a statement. 

“The visitor season is at its peak right now and we would expect thousands of people to come to our sites throughout the remainder of July and August in particular and we are  delighted to offer them the opportunity to leave comments on the books.”

The OPW had withdrawn visitor comment books from sites after being given advice that they could be at risk of non-compliance with the GDPR. This would happen if visitors wrote down their personal details such as names and addresses, the OPW was informed.  

“According to the advice received by OPW, this ran the risk of being viewed by other people who could retrieve visitors’ personal data for purposes other than that for which it was offered, potentially placing the organisation in breach of the GDPR,” the statement said. 

The OPW will now review its use of Visitor Books with a view to reinstating them while ensuring compliance with the key GDPR principles.

The books were banned from heritage sites such as Dublin Castle, Kilmainham Gaol and Muckross House. 

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was put in place in May 2018 in EU legislation. It is a set of rules aimed to give EU citizens more control over their personal data.

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