An Post subsidiary GeoDirectory faces complaint from civil liberties council

ICCL concerned over sale of ‘incredibly personal’ information to organisations such as Experian and Aviva

An Post subsidiary GeoDirectory is facing a complaint from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties over what the organisation says is the sale of "incredibly personal" information to organisations such as Experian and Aviva.

A representative of the ICCL said the company was selling data that covered social class and family status, with 2.2 million households profiled into categories such as “striving urban singles”, “deprived urban families” or “struggling older families”.

According to the ICCL, Experian uses the data for credit reports and geo-demographic lifestyle profiling; insurer Aviva uses the profiles to set individual insurance prices for homes and perform claim pattern analyses.

"I was able to buy data about each of my neighbours, how much money they have, and whether they are single or not," said ICCL's Tech and Human Rights Officer, Olga Cronin. "This information is specially protected under EU law. But GeoDirectory markets this information to businesses to match names and addresses on their existing customer lists to GeoDirectory's profiles about their customers."


GeoDirectory is a joint venture between An Post and Ordnance Survey Ireland.


GeoDirectory compiles the profiles using Census data, including income, labour market skills, age, cultural background, and family status, assigning one of 14 profiles to each household. It says the data is not classed as protected personal data.

The ICCL has lodged a complaint with the Data Protection Commissioner, saying the use of such data breaches the General Data Protection Regulations, which were introduced in 2018 and govern the collection and use of private data.

"GeoDirectory markets its data to prospective buyers as a tool to enrich their existing customer lists. EU data protection law defines any data that can single out a person 'directly or indirectly' as protected personal data," Ms Cronin said. "The law is clear. GeoDirectory, An Post, and OSI are infringing the GDPR. It's time for the Data Protection Commission to step in."

A spokesman for the company said it was unaware of the complaint, and that

“GeoDirectory uses only publicly available information including the National Census,” the spokesman said. “We are unaware of any complaint to the Data Protection Commissioner but happy to engage with the Commissioner if required.”

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien

Ciara O'Brien is an Irish Times business and technology journalist