Monday, November 24, 2014
Philip Lee represent the DPC in successful prosecutions against a private investigator for obtaining unauthorised access to Garda PULSE records
Philip Lee represented the Data Protection Commissioner in today’s successful District Court prosecution against a private investigator, Michael J Gaynor trading as MJG Investigations for breaches of the Data Protection Acts.
The Defendant was convicted of two offences obtaining unauthorised access to personal data held by the Gardaí on the PULSE and GNIB Information Systems and disclosing it to various Credit Unions in the State, which is an offence contrary to Section 22 of the Data Protection Acts 1988 & 2003. The Defendant also entered guilty pleas to 9 offences contrary to Section 22, of obtaining unauthorised access to personal data held by the ESB and disclosing it to various Credit Unions and 60 offences of processing personal data without having registered with the Data Protection Commissioner as a data processor, which is an offence contrary to Section 19(4) and (6) of the Data Protection Acts.
The Court convicted the company in respect of the two Garda charges and imposed a fine of €5000, taking the remaining charges into consideration in the sentence imposed.
The outcome of these prosecution proceedings is significant as it highlights that unauthorised Garda access to information held on PULSE will be subject to scrutiny by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner and members of the Gardaí will be forced to account for their actions both to their superiors and to the Courts.
Further, the case sends a strong message to private investigators and tracing agents to comply fully with data protection legislation in the conduct of their business and that if they fail to do so, they will be pursued and prosecuted for offending behaviour.
It also serves to remind all companies and businesses who hire private investigators or tracing agents that they have onerous responsibilities under the Data Protection Acts to ensure that all tracing or other work carried out on their behalf by private investigators or tracing agents is done lawfully.