Insurance Ireland speaks out against Right to be Forgotten

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Insurance Ireland GDPR

In Ireland, objections to blanket Right to be Forgotten legislation have come from an unusual source: the insurance industry.

On February 5 it was reported that a bill to protect the privacy of cancer survivors has been stalled thanks to pressure from Insurance Ireland — the representative body for insurance companies across the country.

If successful, this bill would prevent cancer survivors from having to disclose their medical history after five years without active treatment have passed. Based on the EU’s Right to be Forgotten legislation, the bill would deny companies offering services such as loans and insurance access to their customers’ confidential medical information.

As things currently stand, cancer survivors are obligated to reveal their medical history, even when they have been in remission for a number of years — and many believe that this prevents them from accessing products such as loans and insurance. But Insurance Ireland has argued that this is simply a misconception.

“This is not the case, with the majority of life assurance applications where a cancer diagnosis is disclosed being accepted at either standard rates or with an additional premium, depending on the condition of the individual,” a spokesperson told the Irish Examiner.

On a European level, representatives from the insurance industry have been lobbying against the blanket application of Right to be Forgotten laws — and this bill is just one example. In an interview with the Business Post, Insurance Ireland explained that this legislation “undermine[s] insurance offerings, since the true risk of underwriting would be unknown.”

But Rachel Murrogh of the Irish Cancer Society has hit back, arguing that such claims are false — and that she’s heard plenty of evidence of discrimination against cancer survivors. Ultimately, though, campaigners just want the bill to be considered away from the influence of the insurance industry lobby.

“Industry should not decide what laws do and don’t progress,” Murrogh told the Irish Examiner. “The Bill should have gone to Committee stage so that all perspectives could be heard.”

It’s a position supported by Catherine Ardagh, the Fianna Fáil Senator who co-proposed the bill. She said, “Cancer survivors go through more than most of us can imagine. They are warriors. The Right to be Forgotten is something legislators should embrace wholeheartedly. I was extremely disappointed my colleagues failed to do so in December. I look forward to them doing so very soon.”

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