- Ireland's privacy regulator is a gamekeeper-turned-poacher: Dublin is a made town.
- Hey look at this: Delights to delectate.
- This day in history: 2003, 2008, 2013, 2018
- Colophon: Recent publications, upcoming/recent appearances, current writing projects, current reading
Ireland's privacy regulator is a gamekeeper-turned-poacher (permalink)
When the EU passed its landmark General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it seemed like a privacy miracle. Despite the most aggressive lobbying Europe had ever seen, 500 million Europeans were now guaranteed a digital private life. Could this really be?
Well, yes…and no. Despite flaws (Right to Be Forgotten), the GDPR has strong, well-crafted, badly needed privacy protections. But to get those protections, Europeans need their privacy regulators to enforce the rules.
That's where the GDPR miracle founders. Europe includes several tax-havens – Malta, Cyprus, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Ireland – that compete to offer the most favorable terms to international corporations and other criminals. For these havens, paying little to no tax is just table-stakes. As these countries vie to sell themselves out to giant companies, they compete to offer a favorable regulatory environment, insulating companies from lawsuits over corruption, labor abuses and other crimes.
All of this is made possible – and even encouraged – by the design of European federalism, which lets companies easily shift which flag of convenience they fly. Once a company re-homes in a country, it can force Europeans across the union to seek justice in that country's courts, under the looming threat that the company will up sticks for another haven if the law doesn't bend over backwards to protect corporate citizens from the grievances of flesh-and-blood humans.
Big Tech's most aggressive privacy invaders have long flown Irish flags. Ireland is "headquarters" to Google, Meta, Tinder, Apple, Airbnb, Yahoo and many other tech companies. In exchange for locating a handful of jobs to Ireland, these companies are allowed to maintain the pretense that their global earnings are afloat in the Irish Sea, in a state of perfect, untaxable grace.
That cozy relationship meant that the US tech giants were well-situated to sabotage Ireland's privacy regulator, who would be the first port of call for Europeans whose privacy had been violated by American firms. For many years, it's been obvious that the Irish Data Protection Commission was a sleeping watchdog, with infinite tolerance for the companies that pretend to make Ireland their homes. 87% of Irish data protection claims involve just eight giant US companies (that pretend to be Irish).
But even among hardened GDPR warriors, the real extent of the Data Protection Commissioner's uselessness is genuinely shocking. A new report from the Irish Council for Civil Liberties reveals that the DPC isn't merely tolerant of privacy crimes, they're gamekeepers turned poachers, active collaborators in privacy abuse:
The report's headline figure really tells the story: the European Data Protection Board – which oversees Ireland's DPC – overturns the Irish regulator's judgments 75% of the time. It's actually worse than it appears: that figure only includes appeals of the DPC's enforcement actions, where the DPC bestirred itself to put on trousers and show up for work to investigate a privacy claim, only to find that the corporation was utterly blameless.
But the DPC almost never takes enforcement actions. Instead, the regulator remains in its pajamas, watching cartoons and eating breakfast cereal, and offers an "amicable resolution" (that is, a settlement) to the accused company. 83% of the cases brought before the DPC are settled with an "amicable resolution."
Corporations can bargain for multiple, consecutive amicable resolutions, allowing them to repeatedly break the law and treat the fines – which they negotiate themselves – as part of the price of doing business.
This is illegal. European law demands that cases that involve repeat offenders, or that are likely to affect many people, must be fully investigated.
Ireland's government has stonewalled on calls for an independent review of the DPC. The DPC continues to abet lawlessness, allowing corporations to use privacy invasive techniques for surveillance, discrimination and manipulation. In 2022, the DPC concluded 64% of its cases with mere reprimands – not even a slap on the wrist.
Meanwhile, the DPC trails the EU in issuing "compliance orders" – which directly regulate the conduct of privacy-invading companies – only issuing 49 such orders in the past 4.5 years. The DPC has only issued 28 of the GDPR's "one-stop-shop" fines.
The EU has 26 other national privacy regulators, but under the GDPR, they aren't allowed to act until the DPC delivers its draft decisions. The DPC is lavishly funded, with a budget in the EU's top five, but all that money gets pissed up against a wall, with inaction ruling the day.
Despite the collusion between the tech giants and the Irish state, time is running out for America's surveillance-crazed tech monopolists. The GDPR does allow Europeans to challenge the DPR's do-nothing rulings in European court, after a long, meandering process. That process is finally bearing fruit: in 2021, Johnny Ryan and the Irish Council for Civil Liberties brought a case in Germany against the ad-tech lobby group IAB:
And the activist Max Schrems and the group NOYB brought a case against Google in Austria:
But Europeans should not have to drag tech giants out of Ireland to get justice. It's long past time for the EU to force Ireland to clean up its act. The EU Commission is set to publish a proposal on how to reform Ireland's DPA, but more muscular action is needed. In the new report, the Irish Council For Civil Liberties calls on the European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, to treat this issue with the urgency and seriousness that it warrants. As the ICCL says, "the EU can not be a regulatory superpower unless it enforces its own laws."
Hey look at this (permalink)
- Behold! The cover of my next novel, "The Lost Cause," (Tor, Nov 2023) by Will Staehle https://twitter.com/torbooks/status/1658125096874131458
HP disables customers’ printers if they use ink cartridges from cheaper rivals https://www.telegraph.co.uk/money/consumer-affairs/hp-printers-computers-ink-cartridges-rivals/ (h/t Slashdot)
Can a Writers Strike Save Hollywood from Monopoly? https://mattstoller.substack.com/p/can-a-writers-strike-save-hollywood
This day in history (permalink)
#20yrsago Five perspectives on spectrum allocation https://memex.craphound.com/2003/05/14/five-perspectives-on-spectrum-allocation/
#20yrsago Vonnegut on “Shock and Awe” https://web.archive.org/web/20030512065845/https://inthesetimes.com/comments.php?id=191_0_4_0_C
#20yrsago Does media concentration matter if we have the Internet? https://web.archive.org/web/20030503062143/https://cyberlaw.stanford.edu/lessig/blog/archives/2003_05.shtml
#15yrsago Canada’s DMCA Minister weasels and fumbles when asked about his copyright plans https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W5-wvCSy_y4
#15yrsago HOWTO keep your laptop’s data out of customs’ hands https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2008/may/15/computing.security
#15yrsago Universal Music: when we get hit with copyright damages, that’s “unconstitutionally excessive” https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2008/05/double-standard-umg-fights-excessive-infringement-damages/
#10yrsago Inside the world’s largest ghost mall, America finds schadenfreude and comfort for its fears of a Chinese century https://edition.cnn.com/videos/world/2013/05/07/watson-china-ghost-mall.cnn
#10yrsago Osaka’s fascist mayor defends WWII policy of sexual enslavement: “a comfort women system is necessary. Anyone can understand that.” https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-22519384
#10yrsago Highest-paid state employees: usually a school sports coach, sometimes a med school dean https://deadspin.com/infographic-is-your-states-highest-paid-employee-a-co-489635228
#10yrsago Canadian govt turns the national science agenda over to incumbent big businesses https://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/politics/research-councils-makeover-leaves-canadian-industry-setting-the-agenda/article11745246/
#10yrsago Abusive restaurateurs stage spectacular social media meltdown https://www.buzzfeed.com/ryanhatesthis/this-is-the-most-epic-brand-meltdown-on-facebook-ever
#10yrsago Pirate Bay co-founder Peter Sunde is a candidate for Pirate Party MEP in Finland https://torrentfreak.com/pirate-bay-cofounder-to-run-for-european-parliament-130514/
#10yrsago Canadian anti-piracy bounty hunters ripped off photos for their website https://www.vice.com/en/article/ppqn38/canadian-copyright-canipre-images-without-permission
#10yrsago Prince Charles’s housing charity gets into bed with torturing Bahraini dictatorship https://www.theguardian.com/uk/2013/may/14/prince-charles-criticised-bahrain-housing-deal
#10yrsago Rich New Yorkers hire disabled “guides” to Disney World in order to skip lines https://nypost.com/2013/05/14/rich-manhattan-moms-hire-handicapped-tour-guides-so-kids-can-cut-lines-at-disney-world/
#10yrsago Odd Duck: great picture book about eccentricity and ducks https://memex.craphound.com/2013/05/15/odd-duck-great-picture-book-about-eccentricity-and-ducks/
#5yrsago John Scalzi wrote a science fiction story about the DMCA to help EFF’s Right to Repair campaign https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/eff-presents-john-scalzi-science-fiction-story-about-our-right-repair-petition
#5yrsago A dozen googlers quit over Google’s military drone contract https://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2018/05/google-employees-resign-in-protest-of-googlepentagon-drone-program/
#5yrsago Kansas finally bans cops from having sex with detainees, people undergoing questioning, witnesses, and people they pull over during traffic stops https://www.kansas.com/news/politics-government/article210902319.html
#5yrsago EFF has comprehensively killed the bullshit podcasting patent https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2018/05/eff-wins-final-victory-over-podcasting-patent
#5yrsago Judge to Facebook: stop deliberately misinterpreting my privacy rulings https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-14/facebook-faulted-by-judge-for-troubling-theme-in-privacy-case
#5yrsago How the “global super-rich” have honeycombed London’s posh neighbourhoods with sub-basements, sub-sub-basements, and sub-sub-sub-sub-sub-basements https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/may/07/pool-basement-wealth-super-rich-digging-down-london
#5yrsago Efail: researchers reveal worrying, unpatched vulnerabilities in encrypted email https://efail.de/#faq
#5yrsago UK government will deputise newsagents to collect and retain identity documents from the nation’s pornography viewers https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/porn-passes-newsagents-shops-online-pornography-website-id-uk-government-a8349281.html
#5yrsago London cops are using an unregulated, 98% inaccurate facial recognition tech https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/met-police-facial-recognition-success-south-wales-trial-home-office-false-positive-a8345036.html
#5yrsago A vital guide to the Canadian encryption debate https://citizenlab.ca/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Shining-A-Light-Encryption-CitLab-CIPPIC.pdf
#5yrsago Realtor claims Uber and Lyft erode the premium homebuyers pay for good public transit links https://www.businessinsider.com/uber-and-lyft-are-changing-where-rich-people-buy-homes-2018-5
#5yrsago The CIA is psyopsing America to help torturer Gina Haspel get the job of CIA boss https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/20/us/politics/gina-haspel-cia-director-influence-campaign.html
#5yrsago To understand the future sainthood of Donald J Trump, just look at George W Bush https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/donald-trump-may-be-the-best-thing-that-ever-happened-to-george-w-bush/2018/05/11/69ae6c7a-5319-11e8-9c91-7dab596e8252_story.html
#5yrsago Profiles of flat earthers: report from the front lines of weaponized media literacy https://www.vice.com/en/article/zm8b74/i-went-to-a-flat-earth-convention-to-meet-flat-earthers-like-my-mum
#5yrsago Exit West: beautifully wrought novel about refugees, mobility and borders https://memex.craphound.com/2018/05/14/exit-west-beautifully-wrought-novel-about-refugees-mobility-and-borders/
Today's top sources: Johnny Ryan (https://twitter.com/johnnyryan/).
- A Little Brother short story about DIY insulin PLANNING
Picks and Shovels, a Martin Hench noir thriller about the heroic era of the PC. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW
The Bezzle, a Martin Hench noir thriller novel about the prison-tech industry. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, WAITING FOR EDITORIAL REVIEW
Vigilant, Little Brother short story about remote invigilation. ON SUBMISSION
Moral Hazard, a short story for MIT Tech Review's 12 Tomorrows. FIRST DRAFT COMPLETE, ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION
Spill, a Little Brother short story about pipeline protests. ON SUBMISSION
Latest podcast: The Swivel-Eyed Loons Have a Point https://craphound.com/news/2023/05/14/the-swivel-eyed-loons-have-a-point/
- Gaithersburg Book Festival, May 20
Public Knowledge Emerging Tech keynote (DC), May 22
WEPFest with Ron Diebert, Dave Bidini and Nancy Olivieri (Toronto), May 23
HowTheLightGetsIn (Hay), May 28
HowTheLightGetsIn (Hay), May 29
Red Team Blues event with Tim Harford (Oxford), May 29
Red Team Blues event with Christian Reilly (Nottingham), May 30
Red Team Blues event with Ian Forrester (Manchester), May 31
UCL Peter Kirstein Lecture, Jun 1 (London):
Cymera Festival, Jun 3 (Edinburgh)
Red Team Blues with Martha Lane Fox at the British Library, Jun 5 (London):
Re:publica keynote, Jun 7 (Berlin)
Otherland event for Red Team Blues, Jun 8 (Berlin)
- Chokepoint Capitalism's Stranglehold on the Arts (News Beat)
Enshittification Part 2: The Mechanisms That Helped Big Digital Go Bad (On the Media)
Slurry With The Turd On Top (Jordan, Jesse, Go!)
- "Red Team Blues": "A grabby, compulsive thriller that will leave you knowing more about how the world works than you did before." Tor Books http://redteamblues.com
"Chokepoint Capitalism: How to Beat Big Tech, Tame Big Content, and Get Artists Paid, with Rebecca Giblin", on how to unrig the markets for creative labor, Beacon Press/Scribe 2022 https://chokepointcapitalism.com
"Attack Surface": The third Little Brother novel, a standalone technothriller for adults. The Washington Post called it "a political cyberthriller, vigorous, bold and savvy about the limits of revolution and resistance." Order signed, personalized copies from Dark Delicacies https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1840/Available_Now%3A_Attack_Surface.html
"How to Destroy Surveillance Capitalism": an anti-monopoly pamphlet analyzing the true harms of surveillance capitalism and proposing a solution. https://onezero.medium.com/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism-8135e6744d59 (print edition: https://bookshop.org/books/how-to-destroy-surveillance-capitalism/9781736205907) (signed copies: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2024/Available_Now%3A__How_to_Destroy_Surveillance_Capitalism.html)
"Little Brother/Homeland": A reissue omnibus edition with a new introduction by Edward Snowden: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250774583; personalized/signed copies here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p1750/July%3A__Little_Brother_%26_Homeland.html
"Poesy the Monster Slayer" a picture book about monsters, bedtime, gender, and kicking ass. Order here: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781626723627. Get a personalized, signed copy here: https://www.darkdel.com/store/p2682/Corey_Doctorow%3A_Poesy_the_Monster_Slayer_HB.html#/.
- The Internet Con: A nonfiction book about interoperability and Big Tech, Verso, September 2023
The Lost Cause: a post-Green New Deal eco-topian novel about truth and reconciliation with white nationalist militias, Tor Books, November 2023
This work – excluding any serialized fiction – is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. That means you can use it any way you like, including commercially, provided that you attribute it to me, Cory Doctorow, and include a link to pluralistic.net.
The excerpt from Red Team Blues in this edition is all rights reserved.
Quotations and images are not included in this license; they are included either under a limitation or exception to copyright, or on the basis of a separate license. Please exercise caution.
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