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Enforcing new EU tech rules will be ‘exacting’ for Ireland, department warns

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Last week, the Business Post reported that several tech companies were granted confidentiality in meetings with Minister Robert Troy to discuss these European regulations.

Last week, the Business Post reported that several tech companies were granted confidentiality in meetings with Minister Robert Troy to discuss these European regulations.

The large number of tech companies headquartered in Ireland will make it a huge administrative challenge

The large number of tech companies headquartered in Ireland will make it a huge administrative challenge

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Last week, the Business Post reported that several tech companies were granted confidentiality in meetings with Minister Robert Troy to discuss these European regulations.

The enforcement of new EU digital rules will “prove exacting” for Ireland given the number of major tech firms headquartered here, according to the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

The Digital Services Act, a broad set of rules for regulating online content, will require member states to create a Digital Services Coordinator (DSC) to enforce the new rules.

In its briefing notes for a meeting with TikTok, the department said this new role “will impose a heavy administrative burden” on national authorities and “will prove exacting for Ireland with the number of businesses headquartered here”.

The Digital Services Act distinguishes companies by their size, with one designation being "very large online platforms” that have more than 45 million users in the EU. Several such companies, including TikTok, have their European bases in Ireland.

“Careful consideration must be given to the implications surrounding the nomination and/or establishment of an Irish Digital Services Coordinator.

"Especially taking into account the availability of the necessary skills and knowledge needed for effective regulation of this sector and the enforcement of this instrument,” the department said.

“Consideration will also need to be given to the interaction between the DSC and its national co-regulators in the digital space.” Minister of State Robert Troy met with representatives from TikTok last month to discuss the new rules and their sister regulations in the Digital Markets Act, which will oversee competition.

TikTok has established a significant presence in Dublin over the last two years. It has not disclosed the number of employees it has here but it is believed to be over 2,000 and growing.

This includes its EMEA trust and safety functions for moderating user content on the platform — a function that will fall under the umbrella of the Digital Services Act  and most recently added a cybersecurity division to its Irish operations.

The Chinese company is also opening a data centre in Dublin to house its European user data. It reports to Ireland’s Data Protection Commission under GDPR.

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TikTok is one of several tech giants that have deployed lobbyists in Brussels and Dublin to argue its positions on the Digital Services Act and Digital Markets Act, which are expected to cross the line in 2022.

Minutes for the October meeting between TikTok and department officials describe the two pieces of legislation as “major files” for TikTok but specific details have been redacted. Representatives of IDA Ireland also attended.

Last week, the Business Post reported that several tech companies, including Apple, Google and Facebook, were granted confidentiality in meetings with Minister Troy to discuss these European regulations with no detailed notes to be taken, which would have been subject to Freedom of Information requests.

“No request was received from the company in question [TikTok] in relation to notes being taken of the meeting,” a spokesman for the department said in relation to Minister Troy’s meeting with TikTok.


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