The Irish government is recruiting two additional commissioners to lead the Data Protection Commission (DPC), which oversees compliance with the European Union’s data protection framework. The DPC has a significant role in enforcing the pan-EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) because many tech giants choose to establish a base in Ireland. The incoming commissioners will join current commissioner Helen Dixon, who will become chair under the new three-commissioner structure. The DPC’s change of structure was approved in July 2022 to strengthen the capabilities of the watchdog, as it handles numerous cases related to major tech firms’ GDPR compliance.
Candidates for the roles must possess a comprehensive understanding of relevant legal systems and frameworks, as well as deep knowledge of ICT and data processing methods and data protection issues arising from their use. The appointments will be made by the Irish Top Level Appointments Committee, and the closing date for applications is October 19th. The DPC’s enforcement of GDPR on Big Tech has faced criticism for years, with privacy experts accusing the regulator of not properly interrogating platform power and protecting EU citizens’ rights. However, the DPC has recently announced growing pipeline decisions against major tech companies, including fines for TikTok and Meta.
The DPC’s approach to GDPR enforcement has faced scrutiny from peer authorities and the European Data Protection Board, resulting in more expansive breach findings and higher fines. The watchdog has been accused of low-balling GDPR enforcement and shrinking liability for the giants it oversees. Privacy rights group noyb filed a criminal corruption complaint against the DPC, accusing it of “procedural blackmail,” while the Irish Civil Liberties Board sued the DPC for inaction on a complaint against Google’s adtech. The European Commission has also increased monitoring of regulatory enforcement following complaints and proposed reforming procedural rules to enhance efficiency and harmonization. The appointment of two new DPC commissioners is expected to bring changes to the enforcement of cross-border cases involving tech giants.