Ahead of a discussion in the Oireachtas (Irish parliament) today on a proposed amendment to a bill that would allow the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) to label all matters before it as confidential, Rasha Abdul-Rahim, Programme Director at Amnesty Tech, said:
“The government’s attempt to allow the Irish Data Protection Commission to label all of their procedures as confidential is a blatant attempt not only to shield Big Tech from scrutiny but also to silence individuals and organizations that stand up for the right to privacy and data protection.
“Despite being responsible for upholding the data privacy of millions of social media users in Europe and around the world, the Irish DPC has a woeful track record of holding Big Tech companies to account. This last-minute proposal is an affront to the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and access to information – and will undermine protections for internet users. This amendment, which would unduly limit people’s ability to publicly hold the DPC and Big Tech to account, should be urgently dropped.
“Rather than trying to shield Big Tech from public scrutiny, the Irish authorities should fully enforce the EU General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) and fulfil its obligation to hold Big Tech to account and protect internet users. Amnesty International’s research has consistently shown how the surveillance-based business models of companies like Meta and Google fundamentally undermine the rights to privacy, freedom of expression and opinion.”
The Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) is a vital data protection regulator, with a unique responsibility for holding the world’s biggest tech platforms — many of which are domiciled in Ireland — to account.
On 21 June, the Irish Government introduced a “ministerial amendment” to the Data Protection Act of 2018 in the final stages of the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022.