Irish bureaucrats raided personal info database for blackmail, burglary, and curiosity

Betsy sez, "The Irish Independent reported this morning that Ireland's national collection of personal data has been raided by various government employees for various reasons. One 'civil servant mole' (the Independent's words) passed on private data that his brother used to burgle one businessman and try to blackmail others. When confronted, the 'mole' told police that:"
It is a common practice amongst civil servants to check up on the financial status of friends, family, and acquaintances... Other records accessed out of 'curiosity' included those of a politician, pop star, and a 'notorious criminal.' The department was unaware of the breach until detectives..told them the criminal had sensitive information in his possession and he had received it from his civil servant sibling.
"If you wonder why the 'Data Protection Section of the Department of Family and Social Affairs' didn't flag these ongoing abuses of personal data -- that happens to be the department that employed the mole." Link (Thanks, Betsy!)


  1. This is nothing compared to the scandal brewing over Gardai allegedly providing information to insurance companies. In Ireland you have the right to view electronic information held on you by companies and institutions including CCTV footage.

  2. Rob Gallagher: Thanks for that helpful generalisation. I can’t wait to read your comments raising the level of debate on other posts.

  3. Don’t be too hard on him, Splod. Take out the word “Irish” and it’s a very accurate and pertinent comment.

  4. I’m Irish. I’m a civil servant working in an archive. I stick my nose into all kinds of stuff I probably shouldn’t. It’s very much in our nature to take the attitude “Sure, I’ll have a look, what’s the harm”. I know a librarian who checks out what books his local TD’s (eh…members of parliment) have read – Mary Harney for one. It’s fair to discribe us as a nosey people.

    I don’t think this is the first time a story about this kind of thing has broken either but I can’t remember the details…..
    but anybody who’s been watching Irish politics since the late 70’s wouldn’t find this kind of thing very suprising.

    I’m more suprised the Independent found out about it to be honest.

  5. #2: I know, I’m of Irish descent and I can hardly resist looking into your personal and financial data. I’m also loaded like 24/7.

    (It’s not possible to be racist against white people, right?!)

  6. I’m Irish and those offended by the supposed slur of being ‘nosey’ have obviously never been to this country.

  7. Peter Garrett, Australian rock star and now politician, tells a similar story of getting a call on his unlisted home phone from a fan who, as a public servant, had casual access to Garrett’s details on a database.
    This was about the time that the “Australia Card”, a centralised inter-departmental database was being debated…

  8. as an irishman, most people know this goes on. in fact, after a woman here won a particularly massive lottery prize, employees of the department of finance regularly checked to see how she was spending this. everybody knows.
    this is not the worst part of irish corruption, trust me. i can name one successful politician who has been faking disability as a driver.

    myles na gopaleen

  9. Myles! Loved your novels.

    Devophill, Splod, thank you for your suggestion.

    My policy is that you can get away with a broader range of statements about a group if you happen to belong to it. Mr Gallagher has an unlocatable address, but since what he’s saying doesn’t match the standard Irish stereotypes, and does match remarks I’ve heard from actual Irish people I’ve known and talked to in the past, I don’t see it as a problem.

    Maintaining massive interlinked databases of personal information, now that’s a problem. If human beings are innately curious, as various commenters have pointed out, giving the entire civil service access to those records will inevitably lead to abuses.

  10. Of course these all seem to be “relatively” harmless abuses of power. But it can get a heck of a lot worse. If we don’t manage to avoid having a national ID card in Britain, I’ll certainly want to be working on that IT Project so I can build myself a few “spare” ID’s for later ;)

  11. Probably should have said I was Irish when I posted that, or substituted “Irish people” for “we” ;)

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