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Statistics Mauritius to survey 900 Homes, Penalty if you refuse



Statistics Mauritius to survey 900 Homes, Penalty if you refuse

Statistics Mauritius has just announced that it will be conducting a survey on the quality of life and time use in 2024.

Attorney Neil Pillay has addressed the penalties for refusing to answer questions for this study.

Starting this Monday, March 25, 2024, around 900 households are to receive visits from officials employed by Statistics Mauritius as part of a study on the quality of life and time use in 2024, titled the Living Conditions Survey 2024.

Can participation be refused? And what are the legal implications?

According to Article 15(3) of the Statistics Act, any person who refuses to fill out forms or any other documents from Statistics Mauritius, or refuses to answer questions or requests under the relevant law, commits an offense punishable by a fine not exceeding Rs 20,000 and imprisonment not exceeding one year, specifies attorney Neil Pillay.

“If the offense is of a continuing nature, an additional fine of Rs 1,000 is provided for each day the offense continues,” he adds.

What assurance does the public have that the information collected during this survey is protected, in accordance with data privacy laws?

In addition to the protections provided by the Data Protection Act 2017, the Statistics Act contains measures against the disclosure of information collected under Article 15(1), clarifies the attorney.

“Any offender under Article 15(1), meaning an employee or agent of Statistics Mauritius committing such offenses, shall, if convicted, be liable to a fine not exceeding Rs 50,000 and imprisonment not exceeding one year,” he explains.

Neil Pillay emphasizes that the director of Statistics Mauritius has a duty to implement measures ensuring the security and confidentiality of data collected by its employees, in accordance with Article 20 of the law.

Furthermore, he says, Statistics Mauritius is obligated, under Article 21 of the law, to destroy the collected information once it is no longer required. In fact, this data must be destroyed within five years of collection.

What do the results published in the form of aggregates and averages consist of, and why are no individual details disclosed?

“When conducting a survey or data collection, individual details, while important, are not as informative as data collected regarding a group.

From this set, data analysis will help understand specific trends within that group of people. It all depends on the objectives of that particular survey,” says Neil Pillay.

However, the attorney states that under Article 17 of the Statistics Act, protection is provided, prohibiting the publication of collected information in a manner that identifies a particular person.

And the penalty is the same as that provided for non-compliance with Article 15(1). An exception to this rule exists if there is consent from the individual concerned regarding the publication or disclosure of information, responses, or data identifying a particular person.

He adds that another exception is provided regarding companies or businesses operating in a specific sector and in a monopoly position.

In such a situation, indeed, it is difficult to publish information without being able to identify the company or business concerned very quickly.

Source: Defi Media

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