Tuesday, 20 November 2012

The Global Reach of Ireland's FOI

Because the Republic of Ireland's FOI law just applies within the state, it's easy to forget that it has much wider implications in this globalised world. Here's an example.

An article on the Croation website Help Net Security reports on the conflict between Facebook - an American multinational - and the data protection laws of the European Union. Facebook has complained that the threat of big penalties for breaches of data protection rules will discourage big companies - such as, well, themselves - from investing in Europe.

The article quotes an Austrian-based website called Europe Versus Facebook, which has obtained documents showing Facebook's lobbying activities, through a Freedom of Information request - to Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner.

It shows Facebook arguing against European Data Protection Commissioners cooperating; against 'privacy by default' settings, against the 'right to be forgotten', strong data breach notifications, heavy fines for breaches, and in favour of easier transmission of data outside the EU.

The document includes a briefing for the Minister of Justice and Equality, prepared for a meeting with representatives of Facebook, which notes that 'we must also seek to ensure that the interests and jobs created by stakeholders operating in Ireland are protected'.

Facebook has its European headquarters in Dublin, and is planning a major extension in the city.

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