Newly appointed data protection commissioner says big tech AI will be regulated

Dale Sunderland, one of two new data protection commissioners announced this week, laid out some of the powerful regulator’s goals for the next 2024 days before his new role was revealed.

Dale Sunderland, one of the three successors to outgoing chief justice Helen Dixon, could also be prosecuted if he ignores instructions from the privacy regulator against “repeat offenders” in Ireland. he warned.

“If we have repeat offenders who are actually breaking the rules and pushing the boundaries, we will not hesitate to take action against them,” Sunderland told a gathering of lawyers recently.

“We are looking more closely at all of our complaint processes, particularly those with domestic repeat offenders and businesses that fail to comply with enforcement notices. We are considering pursuing a prosecution path.”

Mr Sunderland said the DPC had issued 27 fines totaling nearly €3 billion. However, most of the fines imposed were against high-tech multinational companies, particularly Meta. Earlier this month, outgoing commissioner. Helen Dixon said only €20 million of the €3 billion fine had been collected as court appeals against the tech giant’s decisions continued.

Mr Sunderland, speaking at an event hosted by AL Goodbody, also said the DPC would carefully consider the rise of AI as an issue that should be regulated.

“One of the big issues that we were working on last year and continue to work on this year is with al space,” he said.

“We have a particular focus on large-scale language models, working with companies like Google, Open Al, and Microsoft.”

He also said the watchdog “will continue to work with all platforms to ensure compliance in terms of preventive work before new products and services are introduced into new markets.”

Mr Sunderland was one of two new commissioners announced this week by Justice Minister Helen McEntee.

Helen Dixon, who has been the agency’s sole chief executive for almost a decade, will retire next week to become head of Ireland’s communications regulator Comreg.

Des Hogan, who has served as Assistant Chief State’s Attorney in the Office of the Chief State’s Attorney since 2015, will become the new chair of the DPC. A third member is expected to be appointed through the Public Appointments Service later this year.

Mr Sunderland is currently one of nine deputy secretaries, with responsibility for oversight, leadership and international affairs. He is a former communications director for the Department of Justice.

Mr Hogan previously held a number of senior positions at the Irish Human Rights Commission.

The terms of office for both new commissioners will be five years.

Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “The two new commissioners will support an effective, well-resourced and highly skilled regulator.”

“Last year, 85 per cent of fines issued across Europe, including the EU, EEA and UK, were issued by the DPC based on detailed and comprehensive investigations. The Government, as one of the EU’s largest data protection authorities, We highly value the important and independent role of the DPC and recognize its strong track record in fulfilling its mandate.”

Over the past nine years, the headcount of the DPC’s office has increased from 30 to 230 people, and the budget has increased from €3.6 million to €28 million over the same period.

The agency currently has two major decisions against Yahoo and Google and is seeking consultation with other European data authorities, although some objections have been raised by anonymous European authorities. , the final conclusion may not be imminent.

A separate decision on TikTok’s data transfers from the EU to China is also expected to be published this year.

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