06/07/05 Government appoints new Data Protection Commissioner
The Government has today appointed Mr. Billy Hawkes as the new Data Protection Commissioner.
Mr. Hawkes was selected for appointment following a Civil Service wide competition under the supervision of the Top Level Appointments Committee. Mr. Hawke's appointment is for a five year term and he will have the status of an Assistant Secretary in terms of civil service rank.
Mr. Hawkes, currently a senior Department of Finance official, is a former Irish diplomat (Dept of Foreign Affairs 1972 – 1994) who also served at a senior level in the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment and the Department of Tourism and Trade. He is the holder of an MBA from the Open University (2001) and has qualifications in Applied Finance Law from the Incorporated Law Society (2003) and Public Administration from Trinity College Dublin (BSc 1981).
As part of the Government's programme of decentralisation of state services, the Office of the Data Protection Commissioner is scheduled to move from Dublin to Portarlington in the course of 2007 and this project will be one of the priorities for Mr. Hawkes in his new role.
Responsibilities of the Data Protection Commissioner
The Office of the Data Protection Commissioner works via various compliance strategies including court action where necessary, to uphold the rights of individuals to access their own personal data whether on computer or in a paper file. The Office also has a role in enforcing the law in regard to unsolicited direct marketing involving the use of electronic communications ("spam"). The Office also plays a role in developing a harmonised approach to data protection throughout the EU.
6 July 2005.