Parents sharing information about Covid positive kids in WhatsApp groups could be sued
"You are in that grey area where you could actually fall under the scope of the legislation and all that comes with it."
Parents sharing information about children who have tested positive for Covid-19 in WhatsApp groups could be sued under GDPR legislation, according to a data expert.
From Monday, children aged under 12 are no longer required to restrict their movements when they are a close contact of a positive Covid-19 case, unless the case comes from their household or they are experiencing symptoms of the virus.
The HSE has since warned parents that talking about a child's Covid-19 status in non-private WhatsApp groups could be in breach of data protection legislation.
Daragh O Brien, CEO of Wexford-based data and information management firm Castlebridge, told Newstalk on Tuesday that sharing the information "for your own personal or household use" is fine, however, sharing news about the status of kids in any other setting is a "legal grey area".
“The processing of information for domestic use – for your own personal or household use – is outside the scope of the legislation but once you move into an organised public sharing of information," he said.
"Even if you are not a school or a business, et cetera, you are in that grey area where you could actually fall under the scope of the legislation and all that comes with it."
O Brien added that there is also "civil liability" in many of these cases.
“Parents and indeed anyone sending messages on WhatsApp groups needs to really think about, is this going to be distressing to people, would they like it if it was being said about them and also is it true and if it is not true, is it harmful or hurtful to people.
“It is also worth bearing in mind that people can actually be sued for breaching data protection rules. It is not just the Data Protection Commissioner, there is also civil liability.”