Written answers

Thursday, 16 December 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

Data Protection

Photo of Gerald NashGerald Nash (Louth, Labour)
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488. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she plans to upgrade the functions and structure of the Data Protection Commissioner; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [62576/21]

Photo of Helen McEnteeHelen McEntee (Meath East, Fine Gael)
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Under the EU General Data Protection Regulation and the Data Protection Act 2018, the Data Protection Commission is independent in the performance of its tasks and the exercise of its powers.

The Programme for Government commits to ‘recognise the domestic and international importance of data protection in Ireland’ and states that the Government ‘will ensure that Ireland delivers on its responsibilities under the General Data Protection Regulation’. The Government is very conscious of the commitment to deliver effective data protection regulation and protection of the data privacy rights of EU citizens, which is critical to the development and growth of our digital economy. In dialogue with the Data Protection Commission, and with other relevant Government Departments, my Department’s role is to ensure that the Commission continues to have the resources required to fulfil its important, statutory obligations.

To this effect, there has been a year-on-year increase in funding for the Commission over the last five budgetary years aligned with staffing numbers increasing from 110 at the end of 2018 to an expected 190 by the end of this year. In Budget 2022, the Data Protection Commission vote has received an increased allocation of €4.1 million which represents a 21% increase on 2021. This brings the total allocation for the Commission to €23 million in 2022 – a six-fold increase compared to 2015.

Recognising the expanding breadth of the Commission’s regulatory role, its mission to safeguard data protection rights, and the increasing demands, this increased allocation to the Commission in 2022 will enable the recruitment of additional specialist and technical staff and address the increasing case load and complexity of cases being faced by the Commission.

Under the Data Protection Act 2018, provision is made that the Government may determine that the Commission could consist of up to three members. I have asked my officials to consider the matter of appointing additional commissioners to the Data Protection Commission. If such a recommendation were to be made, I would intend to bring that recommendation to Government for a decision.


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