Gardaí Leaking Mobile Phone Records?

Last Tuesday’s Evening Herald had a curious front page story about the Afghan hunger strikers. Entitled “Truth about Taliban hunger strike” it read:

Exclusive: Sinister Taliban rebels directed Dublin sit-in protest from Afghanistan.

The hunger strikers inside St. Patrick’s Cathedral were being directed from Afghanistan, gardai believe.

Sources have told the Evening Herald that some of the 41 protestors maintained close mobile phone contact with “outsiders” in Afghanistan.

It is thought that these advisers were senior Taliban figures and officers have identified a number of former active Taliban fighters amond the hunger strikers.

A source said: “There was an almost constant phone link to advisers in Afghanistan and there is no doubt that these protestors were pawns that were being directed from home.”

“They were seeking regular direction on what they should do and there was no doubt that a Mr Big was in charge.”

This story suggests that Gardaí or others having access to confidential mobile phone records are leaking them to the press, confirming our previous warnings that data retention would be abused. The legislation makes it clear that information should be accessed only for the “prevention, detection, investigation or prosecution of crime” – it’s silent on the question of advancing a political agenda by media leaks. We’ve written to the Data Protection Commissioner asking him to investigate this apparent abuse of the legislation.