The Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan TD has reassured the public that the Household Charge website adheres to the required data protection and privacy standards.
In a statement issued this afternoon, Minister Hogan said: “I would like to reassure users of www.householdcharge.ie that the information they provide is fully secure.”
He noted that the Data Protection Commissioner had indicated some issues in relation to the privacy statement on the website and he assured the public that such issues would be addressed immediately.
The Minister also said that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner had been in correspondence with his Department before Christmas in relation to the data sharing provisions in the Household Charge legislation. A meeting was scheduled at the time to take place in the week commencing the 9th of January. This meeting is to discuss data protection issues and to agree a protocol with the Commissioner’s Office as to the arrangements for sharing of data between relevant data holders.
The Minister said he wished to point out that no data sharing between relevant data holders will take place in advance of the protocol and the agreement of the relevant modalities with the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner. The Minister further stressed that the implementation of the Household Charge can only proceed in accordance with the law as passed by the Oireachtas in the Local Government (Household Charge) Act 2011. It is his intention that any access to data will be as limited as is practicably possible.
The Minister welcomed the fact that over €1 million has been collected in the first four days of operation of the Household Charge and that over 10,000 properties were registered.
He said: “I would like to acknowledge and thank the 10,000 who have registered their properties and paid the charge at this early stage.
“The large numbers of people paying the charge is a clear indication of compliance with the legislation and the acceptance that the Household Charge is necessary to fund vital local services in our communities”, the Minister added.
These services include fire and emergency services; maintenance and cleaning of streets; planning and development; public parks; street lighting; libraries; open spaces and leisure amenities and are integral to the quality of life in local communities.
“We are one of the last countries in Europe to fund local services through local property-based charges. The household charge is an interim measure and a comprehensive and equitable valuation-based property tax will be introduced as soon as possible”, the Minister stated.
The Minister acknowledged that there were some minor teething problems with the website yesterday which have now been fully addressed and he encouraged persons wishing to register and pay the charge to continue to use the website.