Thursday, 29 January 2015

Matheson Calls for New Data Privacy Standards for Transatlantic Data Transfer

'Europe and the US need to lead the way to agree common standards for legitimate Government surveillance and access to data without unnecessarily infringing on the data privacy rights of individuals or we risk stifling the development of the ICT sector.

That was the message from John O'Connor, head of Matheson's Technology practice and Chair of the Irish Group of the Society for Computers and Law (SCL), at today's SCL briefing on The Evolution and Reform of Data Protection to coincide with Data Protection Day.

Mr O'Connor stated, “For Governments and citizens, the on-going debate in Europe and the US regarding Government surveillance and access to data has highlighted the difficulty of finding a sensible balance between the privacy of personal data and the need for legitimate Government access to certain personal data for the prevention of crime and terrorism. There is now a prevailing view that Europe and the US need to lead the way to agree common standards for legitimate Government surveillance and access to data without unnecessarily infringing on the data privacy rights of individuals. This EU/US solution needs to be found quickly and ideally would include new minimum data privacy standards for all personal data transferred to the US from the EU because it threatens to negatively impact the evolution of cloud services, social media, e-commerce and ‘big data’ analytics.”

The ICT sector in Ireland employs over 37,000 people and generates €35 billion in exports annually. Mr O'Connor warned that an ongoing impasse on privacy standards, as evidenced in the dispute between the US and Ireland over data held by Microsoft, would adversely affect the sector. The lack of certainty for multinational ICT firms on privacy requirements has the potential to impact investment decisions and impede Ireland’s recovery.

He also warned of 'drawn out reputational damage' for those not reacting to the coming data protection evolution. “For all organisations, we are on the cusp of very significant change in relation to data privacy laws in Europe which are likely to include increased supervision by Data Protection Regulators, hugely increased fines and other sanctions as well as lengthy investigations and drawn out damage to reputation with considerably more media and public interest associated with serious breaches of data privacy laws. In some ways its comparable to competition/anti-trust law 20 years ago when enormous fines and other sanctions for breaches were infrequent or non-existent but then everything changed. From a corporate governance perspective, now is the time for firms to take a much more organised and comprehensive approach to data privacy compliance.”

Dara Murphy TD, Minister of State at the Departments of the Taoiseach and Foreign Affairs with Special Responsibility for European Affairs and Data Protection also spoke at the event, noting;“Data Protection Day is the ideal opportunity to remind ourselves as a society of the need to take the protection of personal data seriously. Organisations right across the public and private sectors, and individuals themselves, all have a responsibility in relation to the protection of privacy. New EU rules, once agreed, will update our laws for the digital era, and we must prepare for the changes. Government has placed data protection policy firmly on the political agenda and signalled its ambition for Ireland to lead in this area."

Also speaking at the briefing, Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon confirmed that the regulator's office would be 'significantly improving its reach'. “The Government’s recent confirmation of a near doubling of the data protection office budgetary allocation to €3.647m this will undoubtedly allow the regulator in Ireland to significantly improve its reach in terms of protecting the individual’s fundamental right to data privacy and affirm Ireland’s position as an important and steadfast data protection regulator in Europe.”

The Seminar on Evolution and Reform of Data Protection was hosted by Matheson.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Tech Entrepreneur Calls on Irish Women to Demonstrate Impact of Mobile Technology

Women and girls throughout Ireland are being urged to demonstrate how mobile technology impacts on their lives as part of a new online campaign in the lead-up to UNESCO Mobile Learning Week 2015.

The campaign is the brainchild of Irish tech entrepreneur Joanna Norton, founder of the Keywords English app

For the campaign, Ms. Norton is asking Irish women and girls to take a photo showing how they use mobile technology, and post it online.  When posting, they should use the hashtag #MLW2015, and state how their mobile device supports them in their workplace, in managing family life, in keeping connected, in learning and education, and in various other aspects of life.

Commenting today (28.01.15), Ms. Norton said: “The under-representation of women in STEM – Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths – is well-documented at this stage.  It is a major problem in Ireland.  Here, tech and innovation are hailed as being really key to our future economic success but, at the same time, there are not enough skilled staff available to work in these sectors. 

“This year, UNESCO’s Mobile Learning Week is focused on empowering women and girls through technology.  I believe one way to do this is to showcase just how we use technology in our day-to-day lives.  There’s a stereotype that women aren’t techy or aren’t as keen on using technology as men.  I just don’t believe that’s true.  I know hundreds of women who use mobile technology in really effective ways every day, and – indeed – who have developed and adapted mobile technology to suit their own needs. 

“In the lead-up to the UNESCO Mobile Learning Week, I am running an online campaign to demonstrate just how well we use mobile technology, and I’m calling on Irish women and girls to get involved.  All you have to do is take a photo of yourself using mobile technology and upload it to Twitter or Facebook with the #MLW2015 hashtag.  All the images will be collated and shared with UNESCO representatives as examples of how women in other countries could use mobile technology in similar ways.  The campaign also aims to raise awareness about how important it is to promote greater participation of women and girls in STEM.”

About UNESCO Mobile Learning Week
Mobile Learning Week is UNESCO’s flagship ICT in Education event, attracting over 700 participants from 60 different countries last year.  In 2015, the event will run from 23rd to 27th February at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris, and UNESCO is partnering with UN Women to raise the visibility and impact of the event. 

The Irish awareness-raising campaign will run in the three weeks leading up to the Paris event, and is being supported by Newstalk

Three Simple Steps to Take Part
To join the campaign, women and girls in Ireland should:

1.     Take a photograph of themselves, which demonstrates how mobile technology impacts on their lives.
2.     Upload the photograph to their own Facebook page and / or Newstalk’s Facebook page ( and / or Twitter (tagging @NewstalkFM).
3.     Include the hashtag #MLW2015 and a brief description for their photo.

Apple’s world-record Q1 reflects growing iPhone reliance

Apple reported the largest net profit ever for a public company in the three months to December, powered by 74.5 million iPhone sales.