State yet to advertise for new data commissioners

Process was intended to be completed early in the new year

The Data Protection Commission, in effect Silicon Valley’s leading data protection watchdog in Europe, is set to remain stretched in a raft of high-profile privacy investigations after the Republic failed to deliver on a pledge to beef up its senior ranks.

Despite indicating that the process would be completed early in the new year, the State hasn’t even advertised for two new data protection commissioners to join Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commission’s (DPC) only official at that level.

“The positions have not yet been advertised by the Public Appointments Service, a Department of Justice spokesman said in a statement on Friday. Work is under way between various state bodies to “prepare for the launch of the recruitment campaign in due course”, he added.

Under the new structure, Ms Dixon is to become chairwoman of the DPC, which acts as the European Union’s lead regulator for Big Tech due to the large number of firms — including Meta Platforms, Google parent Alphabet and Apple — that have set up regional headquarters in Ireland.


Landmark regulation

The move to expand followed years of criticism of its performance from critics who fear the agency could become a soft touch for firms with large financial firepower — undermining the EU’s landmark General Data Protection Regulation, which in theory empowers authorities to impose large fines on tech giants that don’t toe the line.

The German federal regulator in 2020 warned that its Irish counterpart was “insufficiently equipped for its task”. The DPC itself warned the Irish Government in a pre-budget submission in late 2021 that it was facing “cascading pressures and constraints”.

Ms Dixon said earlier this month that the DPC’s views on the appointment of the two new commissioners had been largely “sidelined”.

“There’s a Government decision; there’s Government policy about what it wants to implement,” she said. — Bloomberg