The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner in Portarlington has confirmed today (Friday) that it’s investigating the activities of a number of private investigators, or tracing agents, who are suspected of unlawfully accessing personal data and passing it on to third parties, such as credit unions.
According to the Irish Independent the personal data of 78 credit union customers has been breached. The location of any of those involved is unknown at this stage however.
A statement from the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner emphasised that it is a criminal offence under data protection legislation for a person “to obtain access to personal data without the prior authority of the data controller by whom the data is kept and to disclose it to another person”.
The same statement confirmed that the Department of Social Protection, which holds personal information in respect of every citizen in the State, is one organisation that has been the target of the suspected unlawful activity.
“The Department has been cooperating fully with this office’s investigation,” the same statement said. “As a result of the investigation, the Data Protection Commissioner has commenced prosecution proceedings in the district court against some private investigators who are suspected of breaches of the Data Protection Acts. While those matters are before the court, this office is unable to comment any further on the matter.”