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NAMA and the banks are tapping debtors’ phones and emails, claims TD

Michelle Mulherin says state-owned banks, NAMA and the former IBRC are incepting phone calls and emails of debtors.

Michael Noonan dismissed the suggestions of Michelle Mulherin, who claimed commercial banks, NAMA and the former IBRC were intercepting emails and phone calls from debtors.
Michael Noonan dismissed the suggestions of Michelle Mulherin, who claimed commercial banks, NAMA and the former IBRC were intercepting emails and phone calls from debtors.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

A GOVERNMENT TD has claimed that the state’s banks are undertaking surveillance to monitor the phone calls and emails of people who owe them money.

Michelle Mulherin made the claim in a written Dáil question to the finance minister, Michael Noonan, alleging that the state-owned banks, NAMA and the former IBRC were intercepting “communications such as telephone/mobile phone calls, phone and text messages and emails”.

The Fine Gael TD for Mayo asked Noonan to “confirm” the surveillance, saying it had targeted “developers or individuals who owe money to these institutions”.

In his reply – which has been written into the Dáil record – Noonan dismissed the claims, detailing the extent of any data monitoring on the part of each institution.

AIB told Noonan it complied with its obligations under Irish data protection law in relation to any information it held on borrowers, and in relation to ‘collection activities’ when it was pursuing debts owed by borrowers.

Both AIB and Permanent TSB told the minister they did not use any surveillance of the type Mulherin described.

IBRC’s liquidators told the minister that while they recorded normal business phone calls “for training and quality purposes”, and emails were monitored as part of the usual data protection policy, they were not aware of any communications from developers being intercepted.

NAMA told the minister it carried out occasional asset searches to investigate the truthfulness of any declaration from a debtor about their assets, but said it expected all of its service providers to operate fully within the law and was not aware of any breaches.

Mulherin had not returned requests for comment at the time of publication.

Irish law allows data from phone and electronic communications to be given to senior Gardaí only when there is a risk to the security of the state or to human life, or when Gardaí are investigating alleged criminal behaviour.

Under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011, however, the content of these messages cannot be handed over – and only the details of an exchange, such as the email recipient or the duration of a phone call, can be supplied.

Read: Apple does not collect ‘a mountain of personal details’

About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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