Legal proceedings have been served on the State challenging whether the office of the Data Protection Commissioner is an independent data protection authority under EU law.
A statement of claim was served last week in the case being taken by the privacy advocacy group Digital Rights Ireland (DRI), which flagged in January its intention to take the challenge.
Solicitor Simon McGarr of McGarr Solicitors, which is acting for DRI, said the statement of claim set out the reasons why it believed the commissioner did not meet the necessary test under EU law to be a truly independent data protection authority.
DRI's case is that Ireland has failed to properly implement EU data protection law, or to follow the requirements of the Charter of Fundamental Rights by failing to ensure the commissioner is genuinely independent from the Government.
The proceedings cite case law in a number of infringement proceedings taken by the European Commission against other countries for failure to fulfil an obligation under the EU treaties.
They include proceedings in the Commission v Hungary, Commission v Germany and Commission v Austria.
In those cases, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that data protection authorities must act impartially and must remain free from any external influence, including that of the state.
The State has 28 days to respond. The Data Protection Commissioner is not a party to the proceedings.
DRI said in January that Ireland’s position as the EU’s centre for technology multinational companies made it critical for the protection of all EU citizens’ rights that the state had “a world class data protection regulatory regime”.