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Over 500 complaints over abortion robo-calls

The Data Protection Commissioner said it has reshuffled staff to deal with the rising volume of complaints.

Image: sergign via Shutterstock

THE DATA PROTECTION COMMISSIONER (DPC) has said it has now received in excess of 500 complaints about the automated calls people in Ireland have received about the country’s abortion laws.

Though the DPC successfully shut down the number that was initially making the calls, the unsolicited phonecalls started again on Thursday evening and complaints to the commissioner continued to flood in.

On Friday around 300 complaints had been received but the DPC told TheJournal.ie that this number increased to more than 500 over the weekend.

A spokeswoman for the DPC said it appears the calls are now coming from outside the jurisdiction which could make it harder for anything to be done about them.

“We’re fairly confident that they’re coming from outside but because the investigation is still ongoing we can’t confirm where exactly they’re coming from,” she said.

“We’re still in contact with ComReg [the communications regulator] as they’re also investigating the calls and we’ll be in touch with them today and tomorrow until it’s sorted out.”

The spokeswoman said queries and complaints about the calls have been coming in mainly through email and staff within the office have been reshuffled to deal with the increasing volume of complaints.

Under law it is illegal to direct a marketing campaign to people who have not consented to receive calls and the DPC can level fines of up to €5,000 per call.

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The pre-recorded message in question claims to have a message from Eamon O’Dwyer, professor emeritus of obstetrics and gynaecology at NUI Galway.

The caller says that Irish doctors do not put mothers’ lives at risk and are always obliged to intervene to save the woman’s life, even if that results in the unfortunate death of an unborn child.

Listen to the full recording of the call here:


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