An Alderney politician breached data protection laws by covertly recording a conversation with a constituent before playing it to others - leading to the man being investigated over his comments.
States of Alderney representative Kevin Gentle has been issued with a reprimand by the Guernsey Data Protection Commissioner for unauthorised collection and disclosure of personal data.
It all started at a meeting between Mr Gentle and a constituent who wanted to raise concerns about the management of an ongoing building project.
Without telling the complainant, Mr Gentle recorded the conversation and later shared it with a third party, who then further disclosed it to an industry governing body. That triggered an investigation into the complainant, which ultimately found no breach of industry guidelines.
Upon discovering what had happened, the complainant then contacted the Office for Data Protection, saying Mr Gentle's actions had breached his rights and brought his name into disrepute in the industry.
Pictured: Data Protection Commissioner Emma Martins said Mr Gentle appeared to have good intentions, but had shown a "general lack of understanding" of data protection matters.
The governing authority concluded that Mr Gentle's intentions were not malicious and that his actions "highlighted a general lack of understanding of the law by elected public representatives and the importance of looking after data, which can often be highly sensitive and confidential."
The Bailiwick’s Data Protection Commissioner, Emma Martins, said Mr Gentle had shown a "willingness to learn lessons from this experience", which could have been avoided by simply by taking notes or asking the complainant's permission to record him.
“Individuals who act in important positions in an official public capacity will inevitably be subject to greater scrutiny of their actions," she said.
"It is therefore the case that their conduct must at all times reflect the significant responsibilities of the role and the importance of engendering a trust and confidence in them across the community they serve.
"The deputy recognises that he fell short on this occasion and we are grateful for the open and honest manner in which he engaged with us. This case highlights how important it is not only to ensure policies and procedures around data handling are fit for purpose, but that they are also communicated effectively and complied with.”
Pictured top: Alderney States Member Kevin Gentle.
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