Lack of GDPR enforcement: Complaint against EU Commission initiated

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties (ICCL) has filed a formal complaint against the EU Commission with the European Ombudsman, Emily O’Reilly. The civil rights organization accuses the Commission of failing to act against Ireland’s failure to properly apply the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). 98 percent of the large EU-wide cases handled by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) are still unsolved, although the law has been in place for three and a half years.

The sluggishness of the Irish data protection authority has the consequence that the enforcement of EU legislation against large US Internet companies such as Google, Facebook, Microsoft and Apple is “paralyzed”, the ICCL complained in its on Monday submitted entry. As guardian of the EU treaties, the Commission is responsible for ensuring that the member states comply with EU law. It is also empowered to bring Member States to the European Court of Justice if they fail to do so.

The DPC is the lead supervisory authority under the GDPR for large technology companies that have their European headquarters in Ireland. Other inspectors in the EU cannot then intervene directly. The ICCL criticizes Ireland’s failure to put the entire community at risk.

According to the complaint, the Commission is generally doing too little to properly monitor compliance with the GDPR. She did not even collect sufficient information from the member states to be able to make a judgment. Relevant statistics, which the European Data Protection Board (EDPB), as the body of control authorities, has passed on to the Brussels executive body, are inadequate. It remains unclear in how many cases the individual data protection officers are in charge, how often the authorities have made use of their powers of investigation or sanction and how many days pass from a complaint to a final decision.

The DPC has long been seen by its critics as a bottleneck in GDPR enforcement. The EU Parliament recently called on the Commission to initiate infringement proceedings against Ireland for this reason. ICCL’s Johnny Ryan recently pointed out structural problems with the underfunded agency. She has too few online investigators and still uses Lotus Notes for complaint management. This is like trying to manage the payroll for many employees with a slide rule.


To home page