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There were 24 data breaches in Joan Burton's department this year

Most of the cases were due to “genuine error”, the Tánaiste said.

Image: Niall Carson/PA

TÁNAISTE AND MINISTER for Social Protection Joan Burton has revealed there were 24 data breaches in her department over the last year.

Responding to a recent parliamentary question from TD Willie O’Dea, Burton said a further 13 reported cases are still under investigation to establish whether a breach occurred. The Tánaiste said the majority of confirmed breaches are “due to genuine error”, such as inadvertently addressing communicators to the wrong person.

In cases where there has been a breach, Burton said processes and procedures are examined to prevent re-occurrence and an apology is sent to the clients concerned. The clients are also informed of their right to contact the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner.

Where a breach has occurred because of certain actions of a staff member, she said appropriate sanctions are applied, which could include dismissal, financial penalties or the removal of access to systems.

“The Department takes its responsibilities in relation to data protection very seriously,” Burton stressed. “Every effort is made to ensure that personal customer data is used solely for business purposes and that it is not compromised in any way.”

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