Thursday 23 February 2017

We're sending out the wrong signals in bid to lure the big data bucks

Simon McGarr

Published 06/12/2013 | 02:30

Billy Hawkes, data protection commissioner, at his offices above a Centra shop in Portarlington, Co. Laois. Photo: James Flynn/APX
Billy Hawkes, data protection commissioner, at his offices above a Centra shop in Portarlington, Co. Laois. Photo: James Flynn/APX
The office in Portarlington

Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner regulates the combined personal data of billions of users of Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, Apple and Twitter by virtue of their investments here. But, unlike all these giants of technology, the Commissioner's office isn't based around the emerging tech hub of Grand Canal Docks. In fact, it isn't even in Dublin.

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The Fianna Fail decentralisation programme sent the Commissioner to live above a Centra shop in Portarlington, Co Laois, a colourful fact the German newspaper 'Bild' was not slow to point out to its readers when it covered Ireland's claim to be fit to manage Germany's data – complete with full colour photo of the Centra.

To take on this giant task of protecting the data rights of everyone in Ireland, as well as those of millions of other users from around the world, the Government has given the Data Protection Commissioner a Lilliputian budget of €2.2m.

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