Dublin District Court, yesterday, convicted a private investigator on two charges of unlawfully obtaining personal information from the Garda Pulse system and disclosing it to without authority. He was fined €2,500 for each offence.
Pursuant to section 22 of the Data Protection Acts(DPAs) 1988 and 2003, it is an offence to obtain access to personal data without the prior authority of the data controller by whom the data is kept and to disclose the data to another person.
The private investigator allegedly obtained the information from a Detective, and member of the Garda, and used the information to provide tracing reports to three credit unions on individuals they hoped to take action against for non-payment of debts. The tracing reports contained information such as names, addresses, vehicle registration details.
This is the second occasion on which the Data Protection Commissioner has successfully prosecuted a private investigator for breaching the DPAs. It serves, once again, as a warning to private investigators to comply fully with the DPAs 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 highlights the importance of all businesses who hire private investigators of ensuring that all tracing or other work carried out on their behalf by private investigators is done lawfully.