Data Protection Commissioner: ‘GDPR will be a game-changer’

26 Jan 2017994 Shares

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Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon at the opening of her organisation's new offices in Dublin. Image: Connor McKenna

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The arrival of the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation will be a game-changer for citizens and businesses across Europe, said the Data Protection Commissioner of Ireland, Helen Dixon.

Dixon was speaking at the opening of the Data Protection Commission (DPC)’s new headquarters on Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin.

Because of the presence of so many technology companies in Ireland, including born-on-the-internet brands like Facebook and Twitter, the role of the DPC has become a global one.

‘This revolution is going to change not only what we do, but who we are, and it will affect our identity, our sense of privacy and, without exaggeration, it will affect what it means to be human’
– HELEN DIXON

Since 2014, there has been a fourfold increase in the DPC’s budget to €7.5m as well as a doubling of the staff.

“Last year saw the establishment of a dedicated team to work with the major data-driven companies that are based here in Ireland – the only team of its type in the EU and a testament to the proactive approach that the commissioner and her team have taken,” said Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD.

GDPR will mean the end of business as usual

At the opening, Dixon said that most people are still adapting to near-constant global connectivity through smartphones and more change is coming, thanks to new technologies in areas like internet of things, self-driving cars and artificial intelligence.

“This revolution is going to change not only what we do, but who we are, and it will affect our identity, our sense of privacy and, without exaggeration, it will affect what it means to be human.”

Already, she said, online tracking and the sharing of personal information is a major challenge.

Dixon said that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which comes into effect in May 2018, is designed to enshrine the right to privacy.

“GDPR is a truly game-changing overhaul of European data protection laws that is going to impact every business, every individual and every member of public sector bodies in Europe.

“It will also impact businesses outside of Europe but who target European consumers.

“It is a law that is going to lead the standard for data protection, globally.

“It will include key new rights to better control for users of their personal data and imposes corresponding obligations on organisations that collect data.

“All of this is backed up by a new suite of enforcement powers for data protection authorities, including significant monetary fines.

“This means it is time for businesses, big and small across all sectors, to start preparing now because it can’t be business as usual any longer,” Dixon warned.

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com