Friday 18 October 2019

Children understand data protection better than adults, says Dixon

Helen Dixon: Hopes to stay on after her term ends in September. Photo: Collins
Helen Dixon: Hopes to stay on after her term ends in September. Photo: Collins
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Children have a better grasp of data protection than adults, according to the country's Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon.

Having undertaken a consultation with children, the Data Protection Commission is currently reviewing the responses it received.

Ms Dixon said younger people are more tuned in to the agreement at the centre of most free internet services, such as the exchange of your personal data in place of money.

The Facebook Cambridge Analytica fallout last year saw the general public become more interested in the issue of data protection, but they did not necessarily understand the area, Ms Dixon said in an interview with the 'Sunday Business Post'.

There is a lot of misunderstanding around the remit of the office of the Data Protection Commission, she said.

The Data Protection Commission is a supervisory authority with responsibility for upholding the rights of people to have their personal data protected.

"It does not cover issues such as cyber bulling and 'revenge porn'.

"As a regulator, we can only operate under the legal framework that provides the mandate for what we do," Ms Dixon said.

Next Saturday, May 25, will mark the one-year anniversary of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Ms Dixon has said that the first batch of major investigations by her office under the regulations into companies like Facebook and LinkedIn will "conclude over the summer of 2019".

Earlier this month Ms Dixon said her office currently had 51 "large scale" investigations under way.

"Seventeen relate to the large tech platforms and span the services of Apple, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, WhatsApp and Instagram," she told the US Senate.

Of the 17 cases, 11 relate to Facebook or its subsidiary firms, Instagram and WhatsApp.

Under GDPR law, the Irish Data Protection Authority can fine companies up to €20m or 4pc of global turnover.

Ms Dixon's term is due to end in September, however she would like to remain in place.

"I think it is in the best interests that I would serve beyond September," she said.

It will be up to the Government as to whether or not she remains in her role from autumn, but it is predicted that she will get another five-year term.


Meanwhile, the Data Protection Commissioner's investigation into Independent News and Media (INM) is set to finish up within months.

Ms Dixon said that she received an update two weeks ago from the investigator who said the investigation was "substantially advanced to the point of near completion".

Irish Independent

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