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Private Investigators and Company Directors Under the Data Protection Spotlight

18 September 2014

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Private investigators are facing increased scrutiny over their compliance with data protection rules. In recent months, the Irish courts have seen two criminal prosecutions concerning private investigators.  Following a prosecution in June when a private investigator was charged with over 70 data protection offences, a separate private investigation company and two of its directors now face 23 charges. Considering two prosecutions have been brought in recent months, this may be an area of increasing focus for the Data Protection Commissioner (“DPC”). The case also proves an example of how responsibility for corporate crime in the area of data protection may be attached to individual company directors. 

data protection private investigatorsBackground

According to media reports, a number of credit unions hired the company to investigate and locate customers who were not responding to communications about outstanding loan payments. The DPC has alleged that the company used unlawful methods to obtain the customers’ new contact details and supply the information to the credit unions. The DPC is said to have discovered the matter when investigating the credit unions. In a prosecution brought before Bray District Court, the private investigation company and its directors now face criminal charges under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003 (“DPA”).