Photo of Shona O'Donovan

Shona O'Donovan

Advising clients on a broad range of data protection, e-privacy and online content issues under EU, Irish, and UK law, Shóna O’Donovan works with her clients on technology regulatory and policy issues.
With multi-jurisdictional and in-house experience, Shóna advises global companies on complying with data protection laws in the EU. In particular, she represents organizations in regulatory investigations and inquiries, advises on children’s privacy issues and provides strategic advice on incident response. Shóna also advises clients on policy developments in online content and online safety.

In her current role, Shóna has gained experience on secondment to the data protection team of a global technology company. In a previous role, she spent seven months on secondment to the European data protection team of a global social media company.

Shóna’s recent pro bono work includes providing data protection advice to the International Aids Vaccine Initiative and a UK charity helping people with dementia, and working with an organization specializing in providing advice to states involved in conflict on documenting human rights abuses.

On 3 October 2023, the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (“ICO”) finalized its Employment practices and data protection − Monitoring workers guidance (“Guidance”) to account for new types of work, including work from home, and the use of more sophisticated technologies for monitoring. In November 2022, we published a detailed blog post on the ICO’s public consultation.

The finalized Guidance is aimed at employers. It does not prevent employers from engaging in monitoring; rather, it sets out how they can do so in compliance with data protection law.  The Guidance defines “monitoring workers” as “any form of monitoring of people who carry out work on [an employer’s] behalf” and can include “monitoring workers on particular work premises or elsewhere” both during and outside working hours. The Guidance is clear that it applies to homeworking.  It also applies to a range of monitoring technologies and purposes, including (but not limited to) technologies for monitoring timekeeping or access control; keystroke monitoring to track, capture and log keyboard activity; and productivity tools which log how workers spend their time.Continue Reading UK Information Commissioner’s Office Releases New Guidance for Monitoring at Work

On June 27, 2023, the European Parliament and the Council of the EU reached a political agreement on the Data Act (see our previous blog post here), after 18 months of negotiations since the tabling of the Commission’s proposal in February 2022 (see our previous blog post here).  EU lawmakers bridged their differences on a number of topics, including governance matters, territorial scope, protection of trade secrets, and certain defined terms, among others.

The Data Act is a key component of the European strategy for data. Its objective is to remove barriers to the use and re-use of non-personal data, particularly as it relates to data generated by connected products and related services, including virtual assistants. It also seeks to facilitate the ability of customers to switch between providers of data processing services.

We’ve outlined below some key aspects of the new legislation.Continue Reading European Parliament and Council Release Agreed Text on Data Act

On September 16, 2022, the European Commission published its Proposal for a European Media Freedom Act (“Proposed MFA”). The Proposed MFA is broadly designed to protect media pluralism and independence in the EU. It does so by setting a common set of rules “for all EU media players,” in particular, providers of “media services.” The Proposed MFA also imposes new obligations on providers of “very large online platforms” (“VLOPs”) as defined in the EU’s Digital Services Act (“DSA”).Continue Reading European Commission publishes its Proposal for a European Media Freedom Act

On October 4, 2022, the EU adopted the Digital Services Act (“DSA”), which imposes new rules on providers of intermediary services (e.g., cloud services, file-sharing services, search engines, social networks and online marketplaces).  The DSA will enter into force on November 16, 2022 — although it will only fully apply as of February 17, 2024. Continue Reading EU Adopts Digital Services Act

The Digital Services Act (“DSA”) is nearing final approval. The DSA imposes new rules on providers of intermediary services (e.g., cloud services, file-sharing services, search engines, social networks and online marketplaces). As we reported in July, the European Parliament voted to adopt the DSA on 5 July 2022. As we wait for the Council to adopt it, there have been a couple of updates in recent weeks, which we set out below. We will keep this blog updated as the finish line approaches.Continue Reading Nearing the Finish Line: Updates on the Digital Services Act

On May 10, 2022, Prince Charles announced in the Queen’s Speech that the UK Government’s proposed Online Safety Bill (the “OSB”) will proceed through Parliament. The OSB is currently at committee stage in the House of Commons. Since it was first announced in December 2020, the OSB has been the subject of intense debate and scrutiny on the balance it seeks to strike between online safety and protecting children on the one hand, and freedom of expression and privacy on the other.Continue Reading Online Safety Bill to Proceed Through Parliament

In the Queen’s Speech on 10 May 2022, the UK Government set out its legislative programme for the months ahead. This includes: reforms to UK data protection laws (no details yet); confirmation that the government will strengthen cybersecurity obligations for connected products and make it easier for telecoms providers to improve the UK’s digital infrastructure; and new rules to enable the use of self-driving cars on public roads. In addition, the government confirmed its plans to move forward with the Online Safety Bill. As part of the government’s broader agenda to “level up” the UK and provide a post-Brexit economic dividend, many of the legislative initiatives referenced in the Queen’s Speech are presented as seeking to encourage greater use of data and technology to support innovation and enable growth.

We summarize below the key digital policy announcements in the Queen’s Speech and how they fit into wider developments in the UK’s regulatory landscape.Continue Reading UK Privacy and Digital Policy & Legislative Roundup

On January 28, 2022, the European Data Protection Board (“EDPB”) initiated a public consultation on its draft Guidelines 01/2022 on data subject rights – Right of access (“draft Guidelines”). Running to 60 pages, the draft Guidelines cover a range of topics relating to the right of access, including analyzing a request; establishing

On January 13, 2021, the Advocate General (“AG”), Michal Bobek, of the Court of Justice of the European Union (“CJEU”) issued his Opinion in Case C-645/19 Facebook Ireland Limited, Facebook Inc., Facebook Belgium BVBA v. the Belgian Data Protection Authority (“Belgian DPA”).  The AG determined that the one-stop shop mechanism under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”) prevents supervisory authorities, who are not the lead supervisory authority (“LSA”) of a controller or processor, from bringing proceedings before their national court, except in limited and exceptional cases specifically provided for by the GDPR.  The case will now move to the CJEU for a final judgment.
Continue Reading Supervisory Authorities Cannot Circumvent One-Stop-Shop According to CJEU Advocate General

On December 18, 2020, the Irish Data Protection Commission (“DPC”) published its draft Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing (the “Fundamentals”). The Fundamentals introduce child-specific data protection principles and measures, which are designed to protect children against data processing risks when they access services, both online and off-line. The DPC notes that all organizations collecting and processing children’s data should comply with the Fundamentals. The Fundamentals are open for public consultation until March 31, 2021.
Continue Reading Irish DPC publishes draft Fundamentals for a Child-Oriented Approach to Data Processing