Irish Data Commissioner report shows sharp rise in complaints and data breaches

Ireland’s Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC), released its 2017 annual report this week. This is the fourth report since the current Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, took office. 2017 saw a significant increase in the ODPC’s budget to €7.5 million (further increased in 2018 to €11.7 million) and an extensive recruitment drive.

Key highlights

  • Total complaints received in 2017 was 2,642, up from 1,479 in 2016 (a 79% increase), with the largest single category being ‘Access Rights’, which made up 1,372 (or 52%) of the total.
  • 2,594 complaints were concluded in 2017, compared to 1,438 in 2016.
  • 2,795 valid data security breaches were recorded in 2017, up by 26% from 2016.
  • The work of the ODPC’s Special Investigation Unit in the private investigator sector resulted in several prosecutions.
  • The ODPC investigated the hospital sector’s processing of patient data, Tusla’s governance of personal data concerning child protection cases, and the Public Services Card of the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.
  • The Irish High Court referred a case about the way Facebook uses standard contractual clauses to transfer user data to the US to the Court of Justice of the European Union.
  • Six entities were prosecuted for offences in respect of electronic marketing.
  • There was strong strategic engagement with the Article 29 Working Party. The ODPC acted as lead rapporteur on the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) transparency guidance.

The significant rise in complaints last year suggests that the Irish public are becoming more aware of their data protection rights and are acting on those rights.

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