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Ministry's concludes release of sensitive data for childless women survey was legal

People in Tallinn.
People in Tallinn. Source: Inimesed Tallinnas.

The population register did not break the law when it released the personal data of thousands of women to Pere Sihtkapital for a sensitive survey, an audit conducted by the Interior Ministry confirmed.

Tarmo Olgo, head of the internal audit department of the Ministry of the Interior, told Postimees that the transfer of data to Pere Sihtkapital was legal because they had a contract with the University of Tartu on the basis of which they commissioned the survey and requested population register data.

Olgo suggested that the controversy surrounding the release of the sensitive data was caused by the signing of a contract by Raul Eamets of the University of Tartu, who did not have the authority to do so.

The audit also identified potential for improvement in the operation of the population register, which could have asked more clarifying questions from the foundation that commissioned the survey and the university.

ERR reported in August of last year that Pere Sihtkapital, a population policy think tank created with the backing of the national-conservative political party Isamaa, requested the data of thousands of childless Estonian women from the population register on behalf of the University of Tartu. The organization distributed a survey to the women, which included sensitive and personal inquiries, including the reason for having no children. The Data Protection Inspectorate found the survey problematic, and the University of Tartu said its involvement had been unlawful.

On behalf of the university, the contract was signed by Raul Eamets, who was also a member of the advisory board of Pere Sihtkapital and served as dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences. This gave the green light to the release of thousands of women's personal information that would not otherwise have been released. The university decided to terminate Eamets' employment when this came to light.

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Editor: Merili Nael, Kristina Kersa

Source: Postimees

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