Helen Dixon reappointed as Data Protection Commissioner for five years

28 May 2019

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon. Image: Connor McKenna

Since taking the helm in 2014, Helen Dixon has taken on the biggest tech giants on the planet and helped usher in GDPR in Ireland.

Helen Dixon has been reappointed as Data Protection Commissioner for Ireland for a further five-year term.

Since taking the office in 2014, Dixon has presided over a substantial increase in the Data Protection Commission’s (DPC) annual budget from €1.7m in 2013 to €15.2m in 2019, the opening of a new office in Dublin, and an increase in staff from 85 at the end of 2017 to 137 in May 2019.

‘Our fellow EU data protection authorities count on us to effectively supervise the large internet platforms headquartered in Ireland, and we are committed to this task’

She has also spearheaded the awareness and education around GDPR for Irish businesses and citizens while simultaneously finding herself at the heart of landmark legal battles concerning social networks and the transmission of Europeans’ data to the US.

Europe’s de facto data enforcer

Prior to being appointed Data Protection Commissioner, Dixon held the post of Registrar of Companies since 2009.

Dixon also previously worked in senior roles at the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, as well as in the private sector, where she worked at two US multinationals companies with EMEA bases in Ireland, the Government said in a statement.

Dixon has a degree in applied languages (French and German) and master’s degrees in European economic and public affairs and in governance, as well as a postgraduate diploma in computer science.

Siliconrepublic.com reported today (28 May) that since GDPR came into force on 25 May last year, 6,624 complaints were received by the DPC and 5,818 valid data security breaches were notified.

The DPC said that more than 48,000 contracts were received through its Information and Assessments Unit. As a result, 54 investigations were opened. The DPC added that 35 of these are non cross-border investigations and that 19 are cross-border investigations into multinational IT giants and their compliance with the GDPR. Interestingly, the DPC received 1,206 data protection officer notifications, indicating the number of roles assigned by organisations in Ireland.

“I welcome the Government’s early decision and announcement in relation to my reappointment as Commissioner for a second term,” Dixon said in a statement.

“At this early but critical juncture of GDPR implementation and enforcement, continuity is important to drive clarity for organisations around the standards they must meet in order to effectively safeguard the data protection rights of service users, consumers and citizens.

“It is a privilege to serve in this role and to work with the dedicated staff of the Data Protection Commission. Our fellow EU data protection authorities count on us to effectively supervise the large internet platforms headquartered in Ireland, and we are committed to this task,” Dixon said.

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