Dublin council investigated over customer privacy

Thu, Jan 26, 2012, 00:00

DUBLIN CITY Council is to be investigated over whether it complied with guidelines in how it handed over the details of 140,000 customers to the private waste company Greyhound.

The company took over the council’s bin collections from January 16th.

There is, according to the council, no obligation on householders to use the Greyhound service.

Other private firms say they have received thousands of queries since the handover from people seeking an alternative.

A number of complaints have been made by the council’s customers to the Data Protection Commissioner following the transfer of their information to Greyhound.

The commissioner’s office wrote to Dublin City Council yesterday and will ask that it demonstrate compliance with guidelines on the transfer of customer information where a business is sold or transferred to a new owner.

Deputy data protection commissioner Gary Davis said: “We are investigating the basis under which Dublin City Council sold their waste collection business to Greyhound waste.”

He said the office also wished to establish the context and legal basis of the arrangement entered into with Greyhound to separately collect outstanding debts on behalf of the local authority.

The commissioner said he also wished to ensure that “appropriate data protection safeguards” had been put in place.

He would seek to establish that the information given to Greyhound in the context of the sale of the business would be held and controlled separately from any information connected with the debt-collection service.

Dublin City Council has said “adherence to the obligations of the relevant data-protection legislation was assiduously observed” in the transfer of the business to Greyhound.

Greyhound is also to be investigated separately in relation to its own management of the details of the new customers.

Cards, similar to a credit card, have been sent to the householders whose information was handed over by the council. The Data Protection Commissioner’s office has also received complaints about this issue.

The Irish Timeswas able to log on to a customer account yesterday and to retrieve details, including account balance, invoices, name, address and payment history, using only the information printed on one of the cards.