Data Matters: Data Protection Issues

AuthorMarie Quirke
PositionJudge of the District Court
[2022] Irish Judicial Studies Journal Vol 6(2)
Authors: Judge Marie Quirke, judge of the District Court.*
Abstract: This article explores the range of issues judges may find themselves dealing with following the
enactment of the Data Protection Act 2018 (itself implementing Regulation (EU) 2016/679 The
General Data Protection Regulation). These issues include a new cause of civil action, changes to civil
procedure, the role the Circuit Court plays in hearing appeals of decisions of the Data Protection
Commission and the role that the Circuit Court plays in sanctioning administrative measures taken by
the Data Protection Commission.
The legal landscape as it relates to Data Protection Law has changed drastically since the
enactment of Regulation (EU) 2016/679 (the GDPR) and the corresponding domestic
legislation, the Data Protection Act 2018 (the 2018 Act), which gives effect to the GDPR.
This landscape is not dissimilar to the hills of Donegal in that there are many and several
manifestations. If viewed together, the hills and aspects of Data Protection law may blend
together seamlessly, but each hill will possess its own twists, turns and challenges.
The GDPR became law by way of direct effect on 25 May 2018 and, in tandem with this, the
2018 Act was enacted on 24 May 2018 with most provisions being commenced on 25 May
2018 via the Data Protection Act 2018 (Commencement) Order 2018 (S.I. No. 174 of 2018).
Parts 5 and 6 of the 2018 Act also incorporate Directive (EU) 2016/680 (the Law
Enforcement Directive) which sets out how data is to be processed by authorities/data
controllers who are competent for the prevention, investigation, detection or prosecution of
criminal activities or execution of criminal penalties, where personal data is being processed
for these purposes. The application of the Law Enforcement Directive is outside the scope
of this paper.
Personal Data A Primer
In order to fully consider the impact of the 2018 Act and the GDPR on the business of the
Circuit Court, it is worth exploring the concept of personal data. In 2006, British
mathematician and architect of the Tesco Clubcard, Clive Humby pronounced that data is
the new oil. While this particular analogy may have some attraction when considering the
monetisation of personal information by commercial entities, it is somewhat of a flawed
analogy. Sholtz notes that the analogy fails to properly encompass the moral, legal and
personal aspects of personal data.
It is submitted that a more useful analogy is to compare
the large-scale storage and use of personal data to that of the nuclear industry in that if poorly
handled, the resultant leaks and externalised costs can be catastrophic.
The GDPR provides a very broad definition of personal data in Article 4(1): Any
information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person
* With thanks to Robert Brophy BL of the Research Support Office of the Courts Service
Lauren Scholz, Big Data is Not Big Oil: The Role of Analogy in the Law of New Tec hnologies’ (2020) 85
Tennessee Law Review.
Cory Doctorow, ‘Personal data is as hot as nuclear waste (The Guardian 15 January 2008 ).

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT