It was announced in Budget 2018 that the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner (ODPC) will be allocated an additional €4 million in funding. This brings the total funding allocation for the ODPC to almost €11.7 million, which represents a 55% increase on the 2017 allocation.
This funding will be essential to the ODPC as it readies itself for the coming into force of the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) on 25 May 2018. The GDPR will place considerable additional supervisory, enforcement and guidance obligations on data protection authorities such as the ODPC. The ODPC will use this additional funding to meet these new obligations by:
- Hiring 40 new staff, bringing total staff numbers to around 130.
- Implementing further GDPR awareness raising initiatives, with a particular focus on small and medium sized enterprises.
- Developing new online services for individuals and organisations and a new case management system.
Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, welcomed the additional funding, stating that the GDPR will "mark a transformative step-change in data protection regulation in the European Union" and will "give rise to an unprecedented increase in the workload of the DPC". She also emphasised that the ODPC "will take on an increasingly leading role in the regulation of the personal data processing activities in Europe of most of the world's top internet technology multinationals, given that many of these multinationals have located their EU headquarters in Ireland."
The coming into force of the GDPR is a welcome development for multinationals in that it will harmonise the applicable rules across EU Member States, which will minimise uncertainty and compliance costs. The "one-stop shop" principle will further simplify matters by allowing companies deal with one "lead authority", for example the ODPC, in the company's place of main establishment.