The Bishop of Cork, Cloyne and Ross, has told General Synod 2019 that it is a privilege to be entrusted with people’s personal data and that such information deserved the highest standards of care.
Rt Rev Dr Paul Colton was proposing a motion committing the Church of Ireland to meeting its legal obligations under data protection legislation and to demonstrating the highest standards of governance, risk management and compliance.
Bishop Colton said the motion was “rooted in human dignity and pastoral care” and that privacy and dignity weren’t recent “nuisance inventions” by the EU. He said GDPR reshaped how organisations approached data privacy but that, as a Church, we should embrace it for higher reasons.
The Bishop said names were precious, personal information and data mattered; they had human implications. It was a privilege, he suggested, to be entrusted by people with their personal data and that deserved the highest standards of care.
The motion was seconded by the Rev Andrew Forster, from the Diocese of Armagh, who said “the new reality” was the law. It had increased the already heavy burden of administration within parishes, but the RCB had put resources in place and data protection officer, Rebekah Fozzard, was available to advise. Ms Fozzard has compiled resources for the Church of Ireland website and held GDPR seminars in the dioceses.
Rev Andrew Forster encouraged delegates to work closely with the data protection officer. She offered one-to-one meetings in parishes in relation to specific needs, he said, and there were serious implications for those who failed to be compliant.
The Dean of Waterford, Very Rev Maria Jannsen told Synod how she had bought an industrial shredder and used it to clear out her filing cabinet which had miles of useless information. The process took her 16 weeks.