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Nine million texts are sent daily in Ireland, a huge increase on when the first text was sent in 1992.  All are subject to the data retention and access regime currently in place under the Communications (Retention of Data) Act 2011.  That regime has now been given the kiss of death by the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) in its recent decision on a referral by the Irish Supreme Court dealing with the validity of electronic communications evidence collected under it.

The legislation, brought in to transpose EU Directive 2006/24, regulates the retention of data by electronic communications providers and access to that data by state authorities.

Continue Reading CJEU Strikes Down Metadata Collection in Irish Criminal Case

The Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC”), having last month released its annual report (see our blog post here), has now also issued two additional reports detailing statistics on its handling of cross-border cases (see here) and a recently completed Resource Allocation Audit conducted by independent consultants (see here).  Each is important in its own right for the reputation and development of this regulator, the lead EU supervisory authority for many of the large technology companies.

Continue Reading Irish DPC Reports on Cross-Border Activity and Resources

On February 24, 2022, the Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC”) published its 2021 annual report setting out its activities and outcomes for last year (see press release here and the full report here).  At 120 pages long, it is detailed and specific, and in places, comes with a targeted and reflective commentary.  Overall, it provides readers with useful insights into the work of a supervisory authority at the forefront of Europe’s data protection whirlwinds.

Continue Reading Irish Data Protection Commission Publishes 2021 Annual Report

The Irish Data Protection Commission has announced its Strategy for 2022-2027, highlighting 5 strategic goals:

  • (1) “consistent and effective” regulation;
  • (2) promoting data protection awareness;
  • (3) protecting children;
  • (4) providing clarity for stakeholders; and
  • (5) supporting organisational compliance.

The strategy is based on a risk based approach to regulation which, according to the DPC, “resonated with the majority of commentators” to the public consultation the Commission conducted as it developed its new 5 year strategy.
Continue Reading New 5 Year Irish Data Protection Commission’s Strategy

One of every five people (20.5%) in Ireland are children under the age of 14.  This constitutes the highest proportion of children in the EU, where the average was 15.2% in 2019.  Ireland’s proportion of young people under the age of 30 is also the highest in the EU, at 39%.  It’s an influential figure for Irish policy makers and regulators, who have strengthened their approach to protection of children’s personal data in recent years.  This greater emphasis on children’s rights is due to a number of additional intersecting dynamics including EU law, child abuse scandals, a rise in cyberbullying, and a growing consensus that children face heightened digital risks.  These dynamics have also informed the planned establishment of an Online Safety Commissioner, currently advancing as part of the Online Safety and Media Regulation Bill just published and currently receiving strong media attention.

Together with the Irish DPC role as lead regulator for many leading technology and social media companies, these legal and cultural headwinds provide the context within which the DPC aims to develop strong child data protection standards.

Introduction

Following extensive public consultation, with experts as well as school children, the DPC has issued comprehensive guidance on the processing of children’s data.  Entitled “Children Front and Centre: Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing,” the guidance sets out 14 principles (referred to as “the Fundamentals”) for organizations engaged in processing the personal data of children.

In addition to the usual GDPR expectations, the specific Fundamentals also include:

  • Zero interference with a child’s best interests, where organizations rely on legitimate interests as their legal basis for processing;
  • “Know your customer” requirements focusing on child-oriented transparency; and
  • Specific guidance around age verification and consent

The overall aim of the Fundamentals, in protecting the best interests of children, is to at least set a default floor of high standardised protection for all data subjects where children may form part of a mixed user audience.

Continue Reading Irish DPC Publishes Guidance On Processing Children’s Personal Data

On November 18, 2021, the Advocate General of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued an opinion on several data retention cases before by the Court, following a long line of CJEU jurisprudence on this topic.

To give context to the issues considered in these cases, Europe’s experience of totalitarian regimes in the last century has shaped its approach to privacy rights.  This is evident in the GDPR and in the decisions of the CJEU to date.  But there remain tensions that are complex and difficult to deal with in this area — notably, the tension between individual rights to privacy and data protection on one hand, and the duty of the State to protect its population against security threats and crime on the other.  These tensions do not marry easily, as surveillance of personal electronic communications is increasingly demanded to detect and deal with crime and terrorism.

Continue Reading Advocate General Releases Opinion in CJEU Referrals on Data Retention

On November 19, 2021, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) published its draft Guidelines 05/2021 on the Interplay between the application of Article 3 and the provisions on international transfers as per Chapter V of the GDPR (available here).  The draft guidelines are currently subject to a public consultation period that ends on January 31, 2022; interested stakeholders can submit their feedback here.

In this blog post, we provide a brief background on the issues addressed in the draft guidelines, and summarize the key takeaways.

Continue Reading EDPB Publishes Draft Guidelines on Interplay of Article 3 GDPR and the GDPR’s Cross-Border Transfer Rules

On Thursday, September 2, 2021, the Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC”) published its decision in the long-awaited inquiry it initiated into the data processing of WhatsApp Ireland Limited (“WhatsApp”) in December 2018.  It finds against WhatsApp, imposing a fine of €225 million.

Continue Reading Irish DPC Finds Against WhatsApp

On Jul 22, 2021, the Irish Joint Committee on Justice (“Committee“) published a report that included a series of recommendations on the work of the Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC“).  The Committee, made up of 14 politicians from across the political spectrum and drawn from both the Dáil (the elected first house) and Seanad (the senate), issued this report following a public hearing held on April 27, 2021 (see our prior blog post here).  The recommendations in the report address, among other things, concerns raised about the Irish DPC’s oversight and enforcement of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR“).

Continue Reading Ireland’s Joint Committee on Justice Publishes Recommendations to Reform the Irish Data Protection Commission

The new standard contractual clauses (“SCCs“) issued by the European Commission (see our prior blog post here) continue to prove controversial.  Among other things, the SCCs require that the law of the European Union (“EU“) Member State underpinning them provides third-party beneficiary rights.  Most EU Member States are civil law jurisdictions that already provide such rights.  Ireland, however, is a common law jurisdiction like the U.S. and the UK, and as such, depends largely on evolving case law to define the scope of various rights and obligations.
Continue Reading New Standard Contractual Clauses Raise Questions Under Irish Law