Suspended Prison Sentence for Data Protection Breach

An interesting case was heard recently in the Dublin Circuit Court where a defendant was charged with breaching Data Protection Law by illegally accessing personal information stored in three people’s iCloud accounts.

While investigating child pornography offences, the gardai came across data protection breaches on devices owned or controlled by the defendant. It was noted that the defendant had used software that enabled him to access the iCloud accounts and phones of others who had been storing their data remotely on various dates in 2016 and 2017.

The garda giving evidence told the court that the defendant had downloaded the personal data of the three people named in the indictment but stated that the information had not been disseminated beyond this.

It was submitted for the defendant that IT was his hobby at that time and his actions were the result of ‘hubris’ and that he did these things simply because he had been able to.

The trial judge accepted that no harm had been caused by his actions as he had not abused the personal data collected.

He sentenced the defendant to two years in prison suspended but warned him that any repeat offence would result in him being jailed.

DPP v Johnstone Dublin Circuit Court (Judge Martin Nolan) March 2023



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