Investigators can access your bank data says SOCA chief

July 16, 2013 0 Comments Bloggies by Graham Penrose

Serious Organised Crime Agency (Soca) head Trevor Pearce recently claimed to MPs that private investigators could possibly lawfully obtain details of peoples’ bank accounts. The Information Commissioners offices are surprised that such a senior law enforcement official could make such claims which are clearly not correct. The acting Director General of SOCA made the claims in a briefing document and said that there were “limited circumstances” where a private investigator could apply to “data controllers” such as banks for sensitive information on members of the public. It is thought that Mr Pearce may have been referring to third-party requests to institutions such as banks under Section 29 of the Data Protection Act. In actuality no private investigator has ever been successful in accessing such data using that method without obtaining prior consent from the data subject.

A senior source at the Office of the Information Commissioner, the Government regulator that enforces laws on data protection said that a snowball stands a better chance in hell than a PI does of getting information like that out of a bank. A SOCA spokesman said: “Mr Pearce did not state, nor seek to imply, that large amounts of personal financial information is available systematically to PIs and stressed that scope for PIs to use the Data Protection Act exemptions is limited. However, law enforcement must consider that financial information which can be accessed by open-source researchers is available.”