Michael Ryan, a self-proclaimed Private Investigator of Glen Collection Investments Ltd, based in Glenamaddy, Ireland, was found guilty at Tuam District Court for offences against the Data Protection Act.
Ryan was carrying out tracing-enquiries on behalf of solicitor clients who themselves were acting for AIB. Ryan’s sister-in-law, employed by the Department of Social Protection in Athlone accessed the authorities system to gather personal data of 61 individuals being traced by Ryan.
Ryan nor his company were registered with the Data Commission and had no authorisation to access person information on the database.
The judge expressed concern that the bank nor solicitor made any checks as to the honesty and integrity of the Investigator. Although Private Investigation firms have to be licensed, presently individuals do not have to be, but there are incidents where no licensed companies are operating. It will soon be an offence for an organisation like banks and solicitors to use the services of unlicensed investigators.
The authorities have made it known that they will vinously pursue unlicensed investigators opening in Ireland.
Ryan was charging between 45 and 100 euros per trace he carried out. The judge imposed a fine of 7,500 euros. The sentence appears light considering the seriousness of the offence.