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Free Data Protection Training for 1 million Irish Citizens announced at National Data Protection Conference

The 7th annual Data Protection Conference brought together a collection of Europe’s data protection experts.

The day began with the Irish Computer Society CEO Jim Friars opening address where he spoke about the need for wider access to data protection training in Ireland saying ‘education is essential to Ireland becoming a European leader in data protection.’

Mr Friars demonstrated the Irish Computer Society’s (ICS) commitment to Data Protection in Ireland by announcing forthcoming free access to ‘ECDL Data Protection Essentials’ online learning.  The ICS aims to offer this training to over one million past, present and future ECDL students in time for the ICS 50th Anniversary in 2017.

The offer will be available until the end of 2017.

“This module is the minimum standard the Irish workforce should be at,” continued Mr Friars. “Many employees will need a deeper level of competence and understanding. Everyone needs to have their knowledge refreshed regularly whatever the subject but especially when it comes to Data Protection.”

“The legislation and the level of threat is changing everyday so it is important that Data Protection Officers seriously consider their own continuous professional development for the sake of privacy, customer trust and company reputation. Every worker should ask themselves ‘would I be happy if my personal information was being handled the way my company is handling our customers?’” said Mr Friars.

The Conference was visited by Europe’s only minister for Data Protection. Dara Murphy TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Data Protection who stated that State Departments must continue to respect the rule of law when considering how they use people’s personal data.

Max Schrems of Europe V Facebook delivered the afternoon keynote entitled, ‘Privacy Enforcement – A modern day fairy tale?’

Schrems’ presentation was based around the class action suit that he is bringing against Facebook. Max offered delegates a look in to his personal experience with Facebook and his own data access request. He spoke about the initial attempts to gain information that were met with no response and shared a summary of the 1200 pages of his own personal data which was stored by Facebook. Information such as friend requests, liked pages, log in times and even ‘pokes’ were all recorded. According to Schrems, Facebook justifies storing this information in various ways, such as suggesting that it is necessary to keep a record of ‘pokes’ in the event that a user wishes to bring a poke harassment case against another user. Ironically, Mr Schrems went on to explain that the members of his class action suit and the crowdfunding he sourced for his case had been done through Facebook.


Max Schrems, Europe V Facebook

Max explained that the reason the suit was brought to Irish courts was that “more than one billion people or over 82% of Facebook users have a contact with Facebook Ireland”. He went on to say that any class action suit brought against a multinational in Europe is very likely to be brought through the Irish court system due to the high number of multinationals whose headquarters are located in Ireland.

The combination of facts, figures and evidence that Schrems presented to the crowd left a great number of delegates contemplating their use of social media, while others took to twitter to voice opinions of their own.

A vast spectrum of issues encountered by data protection officers on a daily basis also featured throughout the day. Christoph Klug, Chairman, CEDPO spoke about Developing EU standards for training DPO’s, with Claire Morrissey of A&L Goodbody presenting ALG’s Data Protection HotSpot Predictions for 2015 and David Hickey, Thornton Group giving advice on how to survive a Data Protection audit.

Ronan Murphy of SmartTech discussed Data Breach horror stories ranging from stories of negligent employees to full-on hacks of digital files and data protection law cases which began by an individual simply saying the wrong thing to the wrong person.


Ronan Murphy, SmartTech

Fintan Swanton, Chairman, DPO gave his closing remarks noting the importance of data protection training. Speaking on this he urged regular training saying that ‘a one hour briefing is not good enough.’ Mr Swanton went on to acknowledge the commitment from the ICS to provide data protection training and said that this was a potentially a huge step forward in supporting the work of data protection professionals in Ireland and echoed Mr Friars comments that companies should encourage continuous professional development for their employees in the area of data protection.


To keep up to date with the latest Data Protection news, join the ADPO group on LinkedIn for regular discussions and events.



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