Data Protection Commission welcomes extra €3.5m in budget

Allocation brings total funds for the regulator to €15.2m in 2019

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon welcomed the increase in funding for her office.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon welcomed the increase in funding for her office. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

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The Data Protection Commission has welcomed the “significant” increased funding of €3.5 million allocated in the budget.

The allocation will bring total funding for the regulator to €15.2 million next year, a 30 per cent increase on its funding for 2018.

In 2015, the commission’s annual budget was just €3.65 million, but it has seen a significant expansion of its workload and responsibilities under EU law since that time.

Commissioner for Data Protection Helen Dixon said the Government’s “recognition of the need to fund an independent and well-resourced data protection authority is very much to be welcomed”.

“The Government increased the funding of the DPC in 2014 and committed to keeping it under ongoing review. This has facilitated the DPC since then in building a regulatory authority that is fit for purpose in terms of our national and global responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR),” Ms Dixon said.

“The GDPR demands higher standards of protection for people’s personal information when it is collected and processed by all types of organisations and the role of the DPC is to monitor the application of and enforce the GDPR.”

Ms Dixon said that as staffing numbers had increased to 120 in the last three years, the outputs of the office had been able to increase in line with a growing workload.

That workload had continued to increase “significantly” since the application of the GDPR on May 25th, 2018, in particular in terms of the numbers of complaints filed and data breaches notified.

Since May 25th, some 1,700 complaints and 2,500 data breach notifications have been received by the commission, representing a doubling of the number of complaints and almost three times the number of breach notifications compared with the same period last year.

About 40 new staff will be recruited next year, bringing the total number at the commission to about 180.

On the DPC’s lead supervisory authority role in regulating the global technology multinationals with EU headquarters in Ireland, Ms Dixon added: “The additional funding will be critical to the DPC’s ongoing effective supervision of these companies and to the expeditious and fair conclusion of investigations into complaints and data breaches relating to these companies.

“This lead EU regulatory role places the DPC at the frontline of global data protection regulation. The 2019 budget increase is therefore critical to continuing to build the DPC’s capacity as an internationally respected, professional and effective supervisory authority.”

The commission last week announced an investigation into Facebook, following a data breach affecting about 50 million users, including an estimated five million users in the EU.

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