Irish watchdog is too sweet for Big Tech and leaves far too many European privacy issues behind, report says. The big privacy issues of international tech giants like Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google will end up on the board of the small Irish regulator. Just because those giants have their European headquarters on Irish soil. Things seem a little too big for the Irish. They hardly get around to it.
The heart of European privacy legislation is ‘paralysed’ by the dysfunction of the Irish regulator, concludes the Irish civil rights organisation ICCL in a report published today. No less than 98% of all major cross-border cases that end up on the Irish label remain unsolved, according to the organisation’s analysis.
The Irish regulator also plays an important role for the Dutch. After all, the strict European privacy rules are enforced in the country of the head office. Many international tech companies have their European headquarters in Dublin, including giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and TikTok. The Netherlands also offers an attractive tax environment and houses, among other things, Booking.com Uber, Snap and Netflix.
No less than 21% of all complaints passed on by other European regulators end up in Ireland. Of the 164 major cases investigated by ICCL between May 2018 and May 2021, only four were finally addressed (2 percent). With this, Ireland scores by far the worst of all regulators, both in percentage terms and in absolute terms.
One of the four completed cases in Ireland is the recent ruling on WhatsApp, which has to pay a €225 million fine for ‘a serious breach’ of European privacy law. According to the Irish watchdog, WhatsApp could not properly explain how it processes user data and what data is shared between WhatsApp and parent company Facebook.
The creation of the fine was particularly difficult. The Irish initially wanted to issue a significantly lower fine, allegedly between EUR 30 and 50 million. Eight other European regulators objected and managed to raise the fine to the final 225 million.