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Ex-Garda working as a PI illegally obtained info from PULSE

Information from PULSE and from the ESB was provided to the investigator, who was trying to trace people for a number of credit unions.

A FORMER GARDA working as a private investigator who unlawfully obtained information from PULSE from a former colleague in the force has been fined for breaches of data protection laws.

Michael J Gaynor, with an address at Beatty Grove, Celbridge in Kildare, was charged with 72 counts of breaching data protection legislation.

At Dublin District Court today, he was convicted on two charges for offences under the Data Protection acts of 1988 and 2003.

A fine of €5,000 was imposed.

Gaynor also pleaded guilty to a further 69 charges, and these were taken into consideration by the court in sentencing.

The case was taken by the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner, which was awarded costs by the court.

Credit unions

The investigator was carrying out ‘trace reports’ for credit unions, who were trying to pursue individuals for non-payment of debts.

Twelve of the charges faced by Gaynor were for accessing data without the permission of the relevant data controller. In nine cases, the data was kept by the ESB, and in three by An Garda Síochána.

Sixty charges related to Gaynor processing personal data without being registered as being permitted to do so by the Data Protection Commissioner.

According to the ODPC:

“The  investigation in this case uncovered access by the defendant to customer data held on databases held by the Electricity Supply Board. To  access  the  personal data, the defendant used a staff contact in the Electricity Supply Board which he had established during his previous Garda career.

The defendant also uncovered personal data held on the PULSE database and the Garda National Immigration Bureau  database.

“In these cases, the defendant solicited  personal  data  from these databases using a serving Garda who was known to him from his previous Garda career.”

The credit unions involved failed to provide any evidence of establishing what methods Gaynor was using to access address information, the ODPC said.

Further follow-up with the Gardaí and the ESB is being planned. While the Gardaí have already been audited by the data watchdog, the ESB have not.

“A data protection audit of the Electricity Supply Board will be undertaken in the near future,” a statement from the ODPC said.

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