Sunday 25 February 2018

Files used to snoop on ex-husband

Shane Phelan

Shane Phelan

The Government has been warned it needs to improve privacy safeguards in the public service after a state employee used social protection files to snoop on her ex-husband.

Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes said senior management in some state bodies showed "scant regard" for their duty to safeguard personal data entrusted to them.

He also revealed an investigation found the man's details were accessed a dozen times "by a member of staff who had no legitimate business reason to do so" between February 2004 and July 2009.

In his annual report, Mr Hawkes revealed the man made a formal complaint after becoming suspicious that his ex-wife may have been accessing his information.

While the matter was referred to the the Department of Social Protection HR division for possible action under the Civil Service Disciplinary Code, it is unclear what disciplinary action, if any, was taken.

However, Mr Hawkes took a firm position on the issue.

"Taking no action against individuals caught engaging in such activity is not acceptable," he said. Mr Hawkes said the case also demonstrated the need for audit trails to be in place on computer systems.

Irish Independent

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