GU appeals decision from the Data Inspection Board

News: 2012-06-21

University of Gothenburg appeals the decision from the Data Inspection Board where SND is submitted to cease collecting and managing research material containing personal data. GU states that the decision is based on an overly general assessment that does not specify exactly what personal data processing operations conflicts with the Personal Data Act.

The decision from the Data Inspection Board (DI) is based on an inspection of SND's activities in August 2011, where DI found that there are sensitive personal data in the material deposited at SND and that SND does not inform or get the consent from the individuals whose data are contained in the material.

University of Gothenburg contests the assertions that form the basis for the decision from DI. The University emphasize that the Data Inspection Board did not define the data processing operations in contravention with the law since DI apparently "did not examine the legality of the individual processing operations of personal data with respect to the specific research data collections". SND is commissioned to document and preserve 380 collections of research data and only 19 of these contain personal data.

It is also emphasized in the appeal that SND does not collect any personal data. For research conducted by another principal investigator, such as another university than University of Gothenburg, it is the principal investigator who is responsible for the processing of personal data.

"To this date, only a few collections of research data that have been deposited at SND contain personal data according to the Personal Data Act. In these cases SND, on behalf of the principal investigator, takes all of the necessary actions in order to preserve and document the collections of research data."

University of Gothenburg complains that the Data Inspection Board has not given the University an opportunity to respond to DI's comments on SND's activities. The Data Inspection Board has not initiated a dialogue to convince the University to voluntarily take action to satisfy the requirements from DI.

– It is still SND's view, that we and the Data Inspection Board have a joint interest in preservation of research data within the framework of Swedish law. A dialogue on how this is to be secured would be valuable, says SND director Hans Jørgen Marker.

The appeal from the University of Gothenburg has been sent to the administrative court in Stockholm. Before the question is decided, the Data Inspection Board has the opportunity to respond to SND's comments and requests. While the process is ongoing, SND can continue to operate as usual.