Sunday 4 December 2016

Betraying the trust of the public

Published 15/02/2012 | 12:26

The failure to dismiss even one of the 87 employees of the Department of Social Protection employees who illegally accessed personal information stored on official databases and then passed that information on to third parties beggars belief.

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The Department of Social Protection databases contain vast amounts of private information on virtually every resident of the State. Some of this information is of an extremely sensitive nature and none of us would wish it to fall into the wrong hands. The least that we can expect from the Department is that such information is kept safe from prying eyes and not leaked to outsiders, and that when breaches are detected, any wrongdoers are severely punished.

Unfortunately, as we report in today's paper, it is clear that the Department has failed to meet even this minimum standard. Although 87 employees were found to have illegally accessed personal information, not a single one of them was dismissed. This was despite clear evidence that several Department employees were passing such information to private investigators in the pay of insurance companies -- this week three insurance companies, FBD, Zurich and Travellers, pleaded guilty to charges of wrongly keeping information supplied to them by a private detective.

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