Home Knowledge European Commissioner Provides Strong Support for the Data Protection Commission

European Commissioner Provides Strong Support for the Data Protection Commission


The EU Commissioner for Justice, Mr Didier Reynders, has provided strong support for the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC), which was the subject of recent criticisms from a small number of MEPs.  The MEPs claimed that the DPC was behind on investigating complaints and was not strict enough with large internet platforms such as Facebook and Google (Big Tech). 

In December 2021, a letter was sent to Commissioner Reynders by two Dutch MEPs and two German MEPs, requesting him to open infringement proceedings against the DPC for its allegedly weak supervision of Big Tech establishments in Dublin. Irish Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, robustly rejected these claims and the allegation that the DPC was lobbying for lower standards for Big Tech. 

William Fry’s Global Trends in Technology & Data report (Report) identified the importance of data-related regulatory issues, which rank as the primary consideration for businesses when choosing a location.  The criticism of the DPC is in stark contrast to the high reputation of Ireland’s data privacy regulation regime, which is regarded internationally as being the gold standard.  The Report, based on a survey of leading businesses around the world, showed that 89% of respondents rated the regulatory climate in Ireland as “good to excellent”.   

Commissioner Reynders issued a reply in support of the DPC, the lead regulator for many of the world’s largest businesses, noting that it was facing complex matters, such as the use of targeted ads by social media companies. On this specific matter, Commissioner Reynders reminded the MEPs that the issue had been referred to the EU’s Court of Justice, a remark seen as emphasising the complexity of the issues faced by the DPC and in support of the DPCs approach. Commissioner Reynders also dismissed criticism of the DPC regarding the apparent delay in its handling of cross-border cases noting that, “The figure about the proportion of cases dealt by the Irish DPC mentioned in your letter appears to be a misinterpretation of the statistic.” Regarding the call to open infringement proceedings, Commissioner Reynders stated that he had not “identified issues with the Irish data protection rules” and did not “have evidence that these rules have not been respected.”

While this support will be welcome to the DPC, it also provides reassurance to the many leading businesses in Ireland.  The support suggests there will be no change to the measured and reasoned approach by the DPC to some of the world’s most complex and significant data protection investigations.  

If you would like further information on this issue, related data protection advices, the implementation of GDPR, or how to manage interactions with the DPC, please contact a member of our Technology Department or your usual William Fry contact.  

Contributed by David Cullen