Protecting your data
Frequently Asked Questions about Data Protection and Security
Who is collecting the census data?
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) carries out the census in Ireland. We are the national, independent provider of statistics. It is our job to gather information, analyse it and produce statistics on our population, society and economy.
Why are you collecting this data?
The census provides vital information on our population and housing stock. Census results help to inform the development and delivery of key services such as education, health and transport needed in our communities.
Does the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) apply to the data being collected in the census?
Yes. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the Data Protection Acts 1988 to 2018 set out the legal framework for the collection and processing of personal data in Ireland. Together, they give rights to individuals (data subjects) in relation to the collection and processing of their personal information. However, these rights may be restricted during the census, where data is being collected and processed for statistical purposes. The GDPR and the Data Protection Acts also impose obligations on organisations such as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) which collect and use that information (data controllers/data processors). Further information on the GDPR is available here.
Is my information confidential and secure?
Yes. We value and protect your information and its confidentiality and security is protected by law. All staff involved in the census, including staff of the company processing the data on the CSO’s behalf, are Officers of Statistics. This means that they are legally required by the Statistics Act 1993 to make sure that your data remains confidential.
The CSO only publishes grouped anonymous data in the form of statistics.
Does the data remain in Ireland?
No personal data will be transferred outside Ireland.
What is your legal basis for collecting census data?
The legal basis for the census data collection is provided by the Statistics Act 1993. Section 25 of the Act enables the Taoiseach to make Orders (Statutory Instruments) requiring people to provide information under the Act. Sections 26 and 27 of the Act provide for the Director General of the CSO to require people to complete and return a form following the making of such an Order by the Taoiseach.
The Statistics (Census of Population) Order, 2020 provides for the census to be held on 3 April 2022. It details the information to be provided and the persons required to provide it.
As a European Union Member State, Ireland is obliged to conduct a regular census of its population, as set out in Regulation (EC) No. 763/2008. There are also specific regulations relating to this census – Regulation 2017/543 and Regulation 2017/712.
How do you collect and process the census data?
The primary means of data collection is the census form. A Census Enumerator will deliver a census form to every dwelling in Ireland before Census Night (3 April), and will return to collect the completed forms between 4 April and 6 May 2022.
The completed forms are returned to the CSO office in Swords.
The forms are scanned and converted into computer images. Using Optical Character Recognition, these are converted into readable data and then checked and coded by staff with the aid of a specialised computer system. The data from the forms is processed in Ireland by the CSO on a secure, closed network. Once they have been scanned and checked, the completed paper forms and digital images will be stored securely for 100 years, and will then be made available to the public, as provided for in the Statistics Act, 1993.
Census enumerators and the census forms
Enumerators are appointed as Officers of Statistics under the Statistics Act 1993, which imposes a binding legal obligation that information sourced under the Act shall be used exclusively for statistical purposes and which prohibits the disclosure of information obtained under the Act save to other Officers of Statistics in the course of their duties. Any disclosure in breach of these obligations is an offence under Part VI of the Statistics Act and is subject to penalties up to a maximum of €44,440 on conviction on indictment.
Each Enumerator were provided with two crates (one red, one black) for the safe storage of all Census forms and materials:
Part of their condition of appointment was that they have to have a secure lockable room to store Census data away from other household members.
They are advised to keep all completed returns at all times in these crates except when they have them in the field or are actually working on them.
Both crates must be kept closed at all times.
They have to ensure that nobody, including members of their own household, has access to Census materials.
Only the enumerator or their Field Supervisor or an official of the CSO is entitled to see the census returns.
The enumerators must ensure that Census documents are never left unattended in cars.
They must carry their map, mobile phone with CMS application, forms and other materials in the satchel provided during the course of the fieldwork. And they are reminded that satchels should never be used for any other purpose.
Census Enumerators will start to deliver the forms in your area from 28 February and will continue to deliver forms up to 3 April. Your census forms should be completed on Census Night (Sunday, 3 April). Your enumerator will return to collect your form between 4 April and 6 May. The census forms are collected from the enumerators by the Field Supervisor at the end of the collection phase and from their house transport is arranged for collection to the Central Statistics Office in Swords.
Do the enumerators collect any other data?
Enumerators will capture some personal information at the doorstep, such as the householders name and contact number – this is to facilitate the most convenient time to collect the census form.
The enumerator will also capture the name, sex, age and citizenship of all members of the household where they indicate that they will be away on Census night.
The data is entered into a specially developed application on their CSO smartphone and is sent to a secure CSO database. This data is secure and the name and contact phone number is used only as an aid to the enumerator to deliver and collect census forms or to help householder with census queries. Personal data is deleted three months after the census field operation is completed. All phones will be forensically wiped at the end of the operation.
What about data collected through the website helpdesk webform?
Householders may use the webform on the this website to request a census form if they haven’t received one. They can also request an Irish census form, a large print form, a braille form, or a guide translation form in one of 22 languages on the webform. Personal data (name, address, eircode and either contact phone number or email address) must be provided so that the request can be completed. The information is used to notify the relevant Census Enumerator so that they can deliver the appropriate census form requested. All personal data that is collected on the webform is used to assist in the field operation and will be retained for a maximum period of 3 months post-census and will then be deleted.
Automatic Decision Making
There is no automatic decision making on any individual based on the personal data collected for the Census Helpdesk. This would be in contravention of the Statistics Act which stipulates that data collected may only be used for statistical purposes.
For further information on the Census Helpdesk and how your data is used, please contact:
Census Helpdesk, Central Statistics Office, Swords Business Campus, Balheary Road, Swords, Co.Dublin, K67 D2X4, Ireland
Tel: 0818 2022 04
What is my right of access to the data?
Your rights to your collected personal data are defined in Part 5, Chapter 4 of the Data Protection Act 2018. However, restrictions apply in certain cases, such as the processing of personal data for statistical purposes. These are set out in Part 3, Chapter 3 of the Act.
Under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), you have certain rights in relation to your data:
- The right to request access, rectification, erasure, restriction or to object to the processing of your personal data.
- The right to lodge a complaint with the Data Protection Supervisory Authority.
However, where your data is being collected and processed for statistical reasons, such as in the census, those rights may be restricted. Restrictions may apply where the exercise of any of those rights would be likely to make impossible, or seriously impair, the achievement of the statistical processing and such restriction is necessary for the fulfilment of the statistical processing.
Should you wish to exercise your rights in respect of your data, you may contact the CSO Data Protection Officer, whose contact details are set out below. Applications for access will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. It is the intention of the Office to vindicate this right wherever possible.
Who is the data protection contact within the CSO?
The CSO has appointed a Data Protection Officer (DPO) in line with our GDPR requirements. The DPO oversees compliance with statistical confidentiality and data protection requirements.
The contact details for the DPO are as follows:
Data Protection Officer
Central Statistics Office
If I am not happy with the CSO’s response – what do I do?
You have the right to contact the Data Protection Commission with any queries/concerns about the processing of your personal data.
The contact details of the Commission are:
- By post: Office of the Data Protection Commission, 21 Fitzwilliam Square South, Dublin 2, D02 RD28, Ireland.
- By e-mail: email@example.com
- By phone: 0761 104 800 or lo-call number 1890 252 231
- Online: www.dataprotection.ie
If you have any further questions regarding your Data Protection rights and you can’t find the answer on our website, you can contact our Data Protection Officer using the contact details set out above.