Tue. Sep 21st, 2021

13 September 2021

Europe is unable to police how big tech firms use people’s data, and Ireland is Europe’s Wild West when it comes to data protection. That’s according to Europe’s enforcement paralysis, a new report released today by the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).

Three and a half years after the introduction of the GDPR, EU GDPR enforcement against Big Tech is paralysed by Ireland’s failure to deliver draft decisions on major cross-border cases.

ICCL delivered the report in a letter to European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders. The letter reminds the European Commission of its legal duty as “guardian of the treaties” to see that the GDPR is properly applied, and urges the Commission to take action against Ireland and other countries that fail to protect people’s data. Author of the report, ICCL Senior Fellow Dr Johnny Ryan, said:

“The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) has failed to send draft decisions to its European colleagues on a very large number of major EU-wide cases. This makes it impossible to uphold data rights and police how Google, Facebook, Apple, and Microsoft, use people’s data across Europe”.

ICCL’s report presents new data showing that Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is the bottleneck of GDPR enforcement against Big Tech. 98% of cases of European significance that were referred to the DPC are unresolved. No other enforcers can assert their authority over the tech companies headquartered in Ireland and so they remain effectively out of the reach of the law.

As the new data show, Spain’s GDPR enforcer delivered ten times more draft decisions than the DPC, despite a significantly smaller budget.

The report presents new data on the staffing, budgets, and outputs of 41 GDPR enforcers across Europe. Covid-19 has forced many to adapt to digital life. Despite this, Europe’s DPAs have not configured themselves for digital era. Europe’s GDPR enforcers have too few tech specialist investigators, and government investment has declined since the GDPR was introduced.

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) is Ireland’s oldest independent human rights campaigning organisation. We monitor, educate and campaign to secure human rights for everyone in Ireland.