Minister Flanagan announces reappointment of Ms Helen Dixon as Data Protection Commissioner for a second 5 year term
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The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today announced the reappointment of Ms Helen Dixon as Data Protection Commissioner for a second 5 year term following Government approval at this evening’s cabinet meeting.
Minister Flanagan said: “I am pleased to announce the Government’s approval for the reappointment of Helen Dixon as Data Protection Commissioner. Helen is internationally well regarded for her expertise in this area. This is a very important role as Ireland’s Data Protection Commission is the EU’s lead regulator for the many multinational companies based in this jurisdiction. I know that Helen is deeply committed to her role as Commissioner. She has launched a number of significant investigations into multinational companies’ alleged non-compliance with GDPR and it is crucial that she be allowed to see them through to completion. I look forward to engaging with her over the course of her second term.”
Helen Dixon was initially appointed as Data Protection Commissioner in September 2014 following an open competition run by the Public Appointments Service (PAS), and was selected for appointment by the Top Level Appointments Commission (TLAC). Reappointment of a Commissioner for a second term by Government is provided for under the Data Protection Act 2018.
Since Helen’s appointment, the Data Protection Commission (DPC) and its remit have expanded significantly. The enactment of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in May 2018 introduced a new data protection landscape. Complaints have increased from 910 in 2013 to 4,113 in 2018. From GDPR enactment in May 2018 until the end of that year alone, the DPC received 31,000 contacts.
The Minister added: “The functions and responsibilities of the Data Protection Commission have grown substantially in recent years. In response to this, the Government has significantly increased the budget and resources available to the DPC. The Commission’s budget has increased from €4.7m in 2016 to €15.3m for this year. Staffing has also been increased from 52 at the end of 2016 to 131 at present with plans to reach 160 by year end.”
The DPC plays a key leadership role on the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) given that a significant number of people in every EU member state are potentially impacted by processing activities of the internet companies located in Ireland. The DPC has led on the development of EDPB guidance on arrangements for Codes of Conduct under the GDPR. The DPC has also launched a large scale consultation on the processing of children’s data and will launch a consultation on a five year regulatory strategy in 2019.
Notes for Editors
The Data Protection Commission (DPC) is the national independent authority in Ireland responsible for upholding the fundamental right of individuals in the European Union to have their personal data protected.
Helen Dixon previously served as Irish Registrar of Companies where she led regulatory enforcement of compliance with the filing provisions of the Companies Acts. Ms Dixon has also held senior roles in the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, working on economic migration policy, science, technology and innovation policy. She spent the first ten years of her career in the IT industry. She holds postgraduate qualifications in European Economic and Public Affairs, Governance, Computer Science, Official Statistics for Policy Evaluation, and Judicial Skills and Decision Making. Ms Dixon was awarded an honorary fellowship of the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (ICSA) in 2014.
The Data Protection Act 2018 allows for the appointment of up to two additional commissioners - with one commissioner designated as Chairperson. This was included as a future-proofing measure and its activation is dependent on a demonstrated need arising from a substantially increased workload at commissioner level. The appointment of additional commissioners does not arise at this time.