The government is to appoint two additional commissioners to the office of the Data Protection Commission (DPC).
Current Commissioner Helen Dixon is to become chair of the DPC.
In making the announcement, the Ministry of Justice said that the DPC had evolved considerably since its creation and that its increased workload and the complexity of investigations had been regularly highlighted by the Commission itself and its stakeholders.
“The Data Protection Commission has performed its role of independently regulating data protection in the state very effectively to date,” Attorney General Helen McEntee said.
“In recent years, the Commission has had to deal with an increased workload with increasingly complex investigative requirements.”
The selection process for the two new commissioners will be undertaken by the Public Appointments Service and the appointments will then be made by the government.
The process is expected to take approximately six months.
“I also request that the DPC undertake a review of governance structures, arrangements and staffing processes to support the work to be carried out by the new Commission model,” said Minister McEntee.
The Data Protection Commission has experienced a significant increase in its workload since the introduction of the General Data Protection Regulation.
GDPR is a European regulation that came into force in May 2018 that imposes strict requirements on the collection, use and storage of personal data.
Since some of the world’s biggest tech companies have their European headquarters in Ireland, the DPC is often the lead investigator in cases involving social media companies such as Facebook’s parent company Meta, Twitter and TikTok.
The Irish Council for Civil Liberties welcomed the government’s decision to appoint two additional commissioners, but called for an independent review of how to strengthen and reform the DPC.
“Without such a review, it will be impossible for new commissioners to know what they need to correct,” said ICCL executive director Liam Herrick.
“The minister’s suggestion that the DPC review itself is totally inadequate.”