The Irish Data Protection Commission has hit out over a funding shortfall after Dublin snubbed its request for extra cash to keep the world’s biggest tech giants in check, insisting it is way down the pecking order in terms of both budget and staffing.
With so many tech businesses setting up their Euro HQs in Ireland – including Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, eBay, PayPal, LinkedIn, Twitter, Salesforce.com, Intel and Oracle – the DPC is one of the most powerful regulators in the world.
However, it continues to insist it is being under-resourced. According to its recent pre-budget submission, the DPC had sought €5.9m to bring its annual budget to €21.1m but received €1.6m instead – an 11% increase on its allocation for this year – bringing its total funding to €16.9m for 2020.
The watchdog is targeting staffing levels of 224, arguing it is currently way below where it should be. The DPC says it had hoped to have 180 staff on the books by the end of this year but that it will have just 148 due to the “highly competitive landscape for specialist skills”.
On current terms, the DPC says it is seventh the largest EU data protection authority in budgetary terms, eighth in terms of staffing.
In sharp, contrast the UK Information Commissioner’s Office has a budget of £30m and nearly 700 staff.
In its submission, the DPC said: “It is arguable [we] should be the largest given the unique role of Ireland and the DPC in lead-supervising for the EU the world’s largest tech platforms under the GDPR.
“Given the role of the DPC as a Lead Supervisory Authority, the office carries a disproportionate burden of the EU’s collective effort to regulate the data processing activities of global tech giants which are active in the European market.”
The decision to reject the DPC’s funding request comes just weeks after the regulator ruled that the Irish Department of Social Protection was in breach of data protection law for retaining data on more than 3 million people who hold a public services card.
However, the Irish government denied this was retaliation. The Department of Public Expenditure & Reform said that “the unique circumstances around this budget inevitably meant that the demands from departments and agencies could not be fully met”.
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