Taoiseach Micheál Martin says Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon is ‘up to the job’ and Ireland should be ‘more robust’ in defending its enforcement record Europeans on the protection of privacy.
During his visit to Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Martin praised Ms Dixon’s “competence and ability” and suggested that critics of the DPC “could do this for their own benefit”.
“I don’t agree with a lot of the arguments put forward in the first place, I think we need a more objective assessment of that,” Mr Martin said.
Mr. Jens Zimmermann, digital spokesperson for Germany’s ruling Social Democratic Party (SPD), pointed to Ireland’s approach to data protection as a growing burden on Ireland’s reputation in Germany , similar to that caused by its corporate tax policy.
Criticism of the Irish regulator has been mounting in the EU over the past four years since a new European data protection regulation (GDPR) came into force in 2018, giving Dublin the role main regulator in controlling large Dublin-based tech companies such as Facebook.
On Monday, Ms Dixon’s office announced it had issued a revised preliminary ruling in a long-running legal battle that is expected to end Facebook’s transatlantic data transfers.
Last year, as criticism of the pace of DPC decisions across Europe grew, the Dáil justice committee held a hearing and in July recommended a comprehensive review of DPC proceedings by the ministry. of Justice.
As a matter of urgency, the committee urged the DPC to clarify its procedures and move from “recommendations to enforcement” of data protection laws. Failure to do so, he added, would mean “not only will the fundamental rights of individuals remain in jeopardy, but the DPC will be faced with a more emboldened and entrenched group of systematic offenders.”
Call for debate
Speaking in Berlin on Tuesday, Mr Martin said Europe needed a wider debate on data protection issues and that he did not have an exact time for a review by the Department of Data Protection. Justice of DPC procedures.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) reported the issue to EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly. She has launched an investigation into the European Commission’s approach to data protection and whether she believes GDPR rules are “applied in all respects in Ireland”.
ICCL member Johnny Ryan said millions of Europeans are counting on Ireland to “ensure that Google and Facebook stop misusing their personal data“.
“This is a critically important fundamental rights issue,” he said.
Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems, a vocal critic of the DPC, said he was unimpressed by Mr Martin’s remarks.
“Instead of responding to objective criticism, such as the fact that more than 99% of all complaints to the DPC do not see a formal decision, we see a deviation,” he said. “I doubt the European partners will be impressed.
EU Commissioner Didier Reynders, in a letter to MEPs last month, said the DPC was right to proceed with caution in cases, including the “complex issue” of its investigation into Facebook.
He acknowledged that there were “different views and approaches” across Europe on how best to implement the GDPR.