New Data Protection regulations to have far reaching effects for Donegal sports clubs

Tom Comack


Tom Comack

New Data Protection regulations to have far reaching effects for Donegal sports clubs

In a week where personal data and WhatsApp are in the news, officers and officials in sports clubs around the country are going to have to be more careful with members’ personal details.

This is due to new legislation on data protection which is due to come into effect next month. The legislation, which is an EU directive, will come into law on May 25th and will greatly increase the responsibility on all sports bodies, especially secretaries and registrars, that have access to members’ personal information.

“It means that officials, both at county, club, provincial and national level, are going to have to be more careful with personal data of members,” said Donegal’s GAA Central Council representative Seamus O’Domhnaill.

“It is coming from Europe and it applies to all organisations and companies and not just the GAA.

“But for an amateur organisation like the GAA it is going to both greatly increase the responsibility and workload of officials.

“The legislation is very specific on the dos and don’ts; for example a club secretary can only give details to third parties specific to the member’s role in the club.

“As an example if a player is just a member of the club’s under 20 team then the secretary can only give out information on that member specific to the activities of the under 20 team, nothing else.

“It will also mean that secretaries or registrars cannot give out telephone numbers or email addresses to other officials in the club that might want to sell the member the club lotto or a draw ticket.”

The law will also mean that all personal information being held by Donegal County Board or sub-committees of the board or the county’s 40 clubs will have to be destroyed at the end of every year.

The member will then re-submit again at the beginning of the following year.

Another area that is going to be a cause of concern for officials is around disciplinary measures.

“It is going to be a major problem dealing with disciplinary matter and cases. Say you have a disciplinary hearing and a judgement is handed down. Once the judgement is passed all the information evidence, etc., has to be destroyed. What happens then in the case of an appeal. That is going to cause serious problems,” explained Seamus O’Domhnaill.

The GAA are to provide training and workshops in the next few weeks to inform officials and bring them up to speed on new practices they are going to have to implement from May 25th on.

Massive fines are being proposed for big organisations and industries but sport bodies are exempt from fines.

Nevertheless they are going to have to be diligent in the implementation of the legislation.