Data Protection Commissioner gets a €2.8m funding boost

12 Oct 2016

The presence of so many global digital companies in Ireland has propelled the Data Protection Commissioner’s office to the world stage. Image: wk1003mike/Shutterstock

Funding of Office of the Data Protection Commissioner up fourfold since 2014.

The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) is to be given a budget of €7.5m for 2017, an increase of €2.8m on last year.

The ODPC has been at the heart of major investigations and court cases ranging from the lawsuit by Max Schrems that led to the demise of Safe Harbour and the rise of Privacy Shield, to investigations involving social media giants Facebook and LinkedIn.

The presence of so many global digital companies in Ireland has propelled the Data Protection Commissioner’s office to the world stage. However, this global scrutiny revealed it to be under-resourced and the victim of a poorly thought-out decentralisation strategy with the office, until recently, located above a supermarket in Carlow.

As a result of Ireland becoming the de facto go-to location for data regulation, the current Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon saw a near doubling of the 2015 budget from €1.8m to €3.6m.

The office also saw an increase in headcount from 29 to 50 last year and the opening of a new office in Dublin.

Data protection a priority of Irish Government

“This is a substantial and very welcome commitment of extra resources to the ODPC and clear evidence of the priority the Government attaches to data protection,” said Dara Murphy, TD, Minister of State for European affairs, EU Digital Single Market and data protection.

“As Minister for data protection, I keep the resourcing of the ODPC under review with the aim of ensuring that Commissioner Helen Dixon continues to have all of the necessary resources at her disposal to allow her to fulfil her statutory role. In this digital age, the Commissioner and her team carry out an increasingly important function, upholding the fundamental right of individuals to the protection of their personal data.”

Murphy said the increased resources allocated to the ODPC in the last two budgets have allowed the Commissioner to recruit additional staff and plan ahead for the further scaling up of the office in anticipation of the new EU General Data Protection Regulation, which will come into effect in May 2018.

“The new EU rules will transform the data protection landscape, and as the lead regulator for data-rich multinational companies headquartered here, Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner will play an enhanced role in enforcing the rights of EU citizens,” Murphy said.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years