Ireland’s DPC is expanding its workforce

5 Oct 2023

Image: © Andrey Popov/

The DPC leads GDPR enforcement in Europe for many big tech players, but has been criticised for its long procedures and accused of creating a GDPR ‘bottleneck’.

Ireland’s Data Protection Commission (DPC) is looking to grow its team with two new commissioners, as it continues to deal with a massive GDPR workload.

The job announcement has been posted on Ireland’s Public Appointments Service website, more than a year after the Government said it would expand the DPC. The current Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, will become the chair of the organisation.

As the DPC states on the job posting, Ireland – and its data watchdog – have a key role in enforcing GDPR across Europe. The organisation acts as the EU’s lead data supervisor under GDPR for several major tech players that have European headquarters in Ireland. This includes Apple, Meta, Google, LinkedIn, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter).

The workload for the DPC looks set to increase in the future. Last month, ChatGPT-creator OpenAI opened an office in Dublin as it looks to expand in Europe.

In the job specification, the role of a commissioner is described as “a demanding one, requiring significant skills, expertise, as well as tenacity and strong leadership qualities, in order to lead effectively in this complex regulatory environment”. The closing date for applications is 19 October.

Enforcement and criticism

The watchdog has been behind some of the biggest GDPR fines the EU has given out over the years. Last month, the organisation gave TikTok a €345m fine for breaching GDPR rules relating to the processing of children’s data.

In May, the DPC slammed Meta with a €1.2bn fine for its Facebook data transfers between the EU and the US. This is the largest GDPR fine ever issued.

However, the DPC has been criticised over the years, with accusations of having “torturous” procedures and being a “bottleneck of GDPR investigation and enforcement”.

Speaking at the European Parliament in May, German Free Democratic Party MEP Moritz Körner criticised the length of the TikTok investigation, as he said he first raised concerns about the app in 2019.

Meanwhile, the record fine issued to Meta was one that the Irish watchdog disagreed with. The European Data Protection Board stepped in to ensure the final decision included the record fine.

Speaking to the European Parliament in May, Dixon said no other data protection authority concludes as many large-scale cross border inquiries as the DPC. She also said claims that the watchdog is “routinely overturned” by its peers are “misplaced”.

During this speech, Dixon also announced the placement of a permanent DPC representative to Brussels, who she described as a “senior staff member” that will be available “full time” to answer questions for MEPs.

Earlier this year, an Irish Council of Civil Liberties (ICCL) report claimed 75pc of the Irish DPC’s investigation decisions have been overruled by its European peers.

This report also claimed the Irish regulator chooses “amicable resolution” to resolve 83pc of the cross-border complaints its receives, instead of conducting a full investigation.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic