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TDs call for review of data protection agency

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Justice Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gerry Mooney

Justice Minister Heather Humphreys. Photo: Gerry Mooney

TDs and senators on the Oireachtas Justice Committee have formally recommended the Minister for Justice appoint two additional Data Protection Commissioners.

They also asked for a wide-ranging review of the agency in a hard-hitting report that explicitly echoes critics of the current structure.

The Justice Committee, chaired by TD James Lawless, has made a large number of recommendations to the minister. It follows a hearing in April with the current Commissioner, Helen Dixon, and members of her staff, as well as privacy campaigner Max Schrems, solicitor Dr Fred Logue and Dr Johnny Ryan of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL).

That notably tense session included Austrian privacy campaigner Mr Schrems slamming Ireland’s regulatory record, as well as a sharp rebuke from Ms Dixon over what she described as “inaccuracies” in his testimony.

Now in its report, the Justice Committee echoes many concerns raised on the day in relation to Ireland’s policing of general data protection regulation (GDPR).

“The committee fears that citizens’ fundamental rights (to privacy) are in peril,” the report to the minister said.

Committee members called for a wide-ranging review aimed at strengthening and speeding up investigation and potential punishment of data protection breaches, including an examination of whether staffing levels and resource allocation are appropriate.

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