Ireland to appoint new commissioners to data privacy regulator

FILE PHOTO: National flag of Ireland flies above the President
The Irish government announced on Wednesday that it will appoint two additional commissioners to the Irish Data Protection Commission, Europe’s main regulator of tech giants (Alphabet Inc’s Google, Facebook’s Meta Platforms unit, Apple Inc, Microsoft Corp and Twitter Inc).

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said the appointments would support current commissioner Helen Dixon and improve the commission’s ability to deal with an increased workload and increasingly complex investigative requirements.

Ireland controls many of the big US internet giants because their European headquarters are in the country, but its DPC has been criticized for long and heavy-handed investigations of big multinational tech companies. Pressure has grown for a European approach to data protection and privacy.

Dixon’s office has so far conducted three investigations into multinational companies under new EU privacy rules introduced in 2018, including last year’s 225 million euro fine for WhatsApp.

Speaking to Reuters in February, Dixon said the regulator’s staff had grown from 27 in 2014 to 195 and the number needed to be increased. However, they rejected the demand to appoint two other commissioners to speed up backlog processing.

“Some of the issues we talked about in terms of perceived speed, we don’t think a three-headed organization would improve,” she said.

Last month, the head of the European Data Protection Supervisor (EDPS), Wojciech Wiewiorowski, called for a pan-European data protection enforcement model to ensure a consistently high level of protection of fundamental rights to data protection and privacy across the EU. [L1N2Y41L6]

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