Gardaí face a flood of Data Requests
Thursday 27th March 2014
A flood of information data requests could now swamp the gardaí as tens of thousands of people can demand access to any recordings made of their phone conversations with Garda stations.
Under data protection legislation, any third party which makes a recording of a phone conversation is obliged to keep a record of the recording and to register this fact with the Data Protection Commissioner.
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner told the Irish Daily Mail that it was only informed of the fact that recordings had taken place this month-that same day the Garda Commissioner Martin Callallan wrote to the Justice Minister to inform him of the practice.
In their correspondence with the Data Protection Commissioner, the Garda Síochána requested information on how best to dispose of the recordings. The Commissioner’s Office told the gardaí that under the requirements of the Data Protection Acts, it had a duty to not retain personal data for any longer than necessary. Under the legislation it is accepted that there can be a legitimate business interest for the recording of calls but callers should be clearly informed that recording is taking place and they have a right to get a copy.
Solicitor and data protection expert Fintan Lawlor said the Garda recordings appear to breach a whole range of provisions of the Data Protection Acts. Mr Lawlor said if the gardaí refuse to say whether they have recordings of their conversations or if because of a lack of record-keeping, they are unable to tell a person if they have recordings of their conversations, that person may report the force to the Data Protection Commissioner.
Sources close to the matter advise however that because the Data Protection Commissioner is already struggling under a very high caseload, individuals could be waiting a long time to receive any satisfaction if they lodge a complaint against the Garda.