A Garda has alleged that his data protection rights were breached when a representative of his Credit Union showed his father his confidential financial statements, which indicated difficulties with his loans.

The man is seeking an order that the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) conduct an oral hearing into his complaint. Mr Justice Séamus Noonan has granted the man judicial review of the DPC’s refusal of an oral hearing. 

Upon receipt of the man’s complaint, the DPC had claimed that it was not possible to form a definitive opinion on it, as it involved an allegation of a verbal disclosure, and it would be impossible to prove personal information was unfairly disclosed under the Data Protection Acts 1988 and 2003.

The man is contending that the DPC should conduct an oral hearing, as an issue of fact is in dispute, which can only be resolved by hearing the parties involved. By refusing an oral hearing, the man is claiming that his rights to natural and constitutional justice have been breached. The matter is due to come before the courts shortly.

Increase in civil law suits for data breaches
At a PAI data protection conference in Dublin last week, the DPC highlighted the increasing number of civil law actions being taken against companies and government departments for failing in their duty of care to protect people’s personal information. To date, however, most of these cases have been settled. 

For further discussion of the statutory duty of care owed by a data controller in respect of the personal information it collects, see my blog here.