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Enforcement against Big Tech 'failing' in Ireland as EU demands 'tougher sanctions'

The ICCL has said that a lack of funding is not the issue causing Ireland’s “failure” to enforce data protection laws.

ENFORCEMENT AGAINST BIG Tech is “failing” in Ireland as the Data Protection Commission (DPC) is being “overruled by EU colleagues”, the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has said. 

The ICCL, the country’s leading and oldest human rights campaigning organisation, has stated that the investigating and enforcement powers of the GPDR, the EU’s data protection law, “have not been taken up” in Ireland. 

Five years on since the EU’s landmark data law came into effect, only eight finalised decisions have been made in “big investigative cases”, the ICCL has said. 

“The Irish DPC is out of step with its European colleagues: the European Data Protection Board has voted by majority to overrule the Irish DPC and impose tougher sanctions in 75% of the DPC’s decisions on investigative EU case,” a spokesperson added. 

The ICCL has further stated that a lack of funding for the data protection authority “does not appear to be the primary problem”, as Ireland’s DPC now has the fifth largest budget in the EEA. 

The council has released a report on Ireland “GDPR crisis point” which is says evidences the “stark failure” of authorities in Ireland when it comes to taking action against Big Tech companies in breach of regulations. 

The report states that the Government “resists calls for an independent review of the DPC that could determine how to strengthen and reform it”. 

The author of the report, Dr Johnny Ryan, said that the lack of enforcement action being taken against tech companies in Ireland is putting people at risk. 

“It exposes everyone to serious digital hazards: discrimination, manipulation, information distortion, and invasive AI. We urge the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, to finally take action.”

The ICCL further stated that a lack of action is being taken under GDPR across Europe, not just in Ireland. 

“Despite the hype that greeted the introduction of Europe’s data law, the data in the registry of approved decisions show only 49 compliance orders (the most powerful GDPR enforcement tool) and 28 fines by late 2022,” a spokesperson said. \

Last summer, the Government announced that two additional data protection commissioners would be hired, and that Helen Dixon would be promoted to chairwoman of the DPC – in an attempt to better resource the watchdog in recognition of its growing workload.

The DPC has been carrying out a review of its governance structures, staffing arrangements and processes since last summer.

With reporting by Press Association

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