Phone firms escape criminal ruling
on 03/10/2012 00:00:00
The computers were stolen on a date between Dec 28, 2011, and Jan 2, 2012, from Eircom's premi-ses at Parkwest in Dublin.
The theft was not discovered until Jan 3 and was reported to gardaí. The data protection watchdog was not informed for about a month.
The information on the laptops included passport and driving licence details, financial statements, and bank card details.
Meteor and eMobile, which is owned by Eircom, pleaded guilty at Dublin District Court on Sept 10 to three charges under the Data Protection Act. The court had ordered both to donate €15,000 to two charities.
Yesterday, Judge John O'Neill was furnished with receipts showing the phone companies had made the donations to children's charity the Laura Lynn Foundation and the Pieta House suicide awareness centre.
The judge then struck out the case.
In the hearing last month, Tony Delaney, the assistant data protection commissi-oner, gave evidence and the court heard that both firms accepted there had been a delay in telling the Data Protection Commissioner as well as the customers involved, and that the data on the laptops had not been properly encrypted.
The court heard it took about 30 days before it was reported to the Data Protection Commissioner.
It took from six weeks to two months before customers learned about what had happened to laptops containing personal and financial information about them.
About 3,944 Meteor customers and 6,295 eMobile customers were affected by the data breach.
Judge O'Neill said both mobile phone operators had not followed regulations and should have notified the commissioner earlier, but he noted they had pleaded guilty and neither company had prior convictions from breaching data protection laws.