The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has called on all political parties in the Dáil to challenge a Government move that it claims would “muzzle” critics of the Data Protection Commission (DPC).
The ICCL was referring to amendments added by the Government at the final stages of a miscellaneous-provisions bill.
The amendments to the Courts and Civil Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill 2022 will come before the Dáil for final debate on Wednesday.
The ICCL argues that the proposed changes will prevent people from speaking about how the DPC handles their complaint, and will make it “impossible” for journalists to properly report on Ireland’s GDPR supervision of ‘Big Tech’ firms that have their European headquarters here, such as Google, Meta, Apple, Microsoft, and TikTok.
Dr Johnny Ryan (Senior Fellow with ICCL) said: “Justice should be done in public. The DPC should be holding public GDPR hearings, as the Supreme Court's Zalewski decision makes clear.
“Instead, the Government is attempting to make DPC decision-making even more opaque. The DPC is already exempted from freedom-of-information rules that could have aided in its reform.”
He added that the issue should not be the subject of what he described as “eleventh-hour amendments inserted during the end-of-term legislative rush”.
EU conflict risk
Dr Ryan called on the Government to explain why it wanted to introduce the change, and why it had tried to do so through a “last-minute” amendment.
The ICCL also argues that the proposed change may damage the proper flow of information between the DPC and its peers across the EU, as the DPC will have the power to designate as ‘confidential’ material that should be shared with other European authorities.
“The amendment also creates a risk of conflict with imminent European law. The European Commission will soon propose a new regulation to harmonise the conduct of cross-border GDPR cases,” the ICCL adds.