Ireland agreed to join the global 15% tax, losing much of the tax advantage that it had so far offered to big tech companies like Facebook, Google or Apple. But his special relationship with these companies is still present.
18 years later, Ireland has abandoned its low-tax policy but trusts in maintaining the more than 1,000 multinationals of the technology sector. To achieve this, they have positioned themselves as a powerful business center, but also as a country very aligned with the interests of big technology, mainly in legislative and data protection matters.
Europe’s tech lobby starts in Ireland
Companies such as Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Twitter have their European headquarters in Dublin. Tax benefits had always been placed as the main argument for that location, but once taxes are leveling off, Ireland continues to offer a very conducive context and the opinions of big technology companies are heard at the highest level.
As described Business Post, some of these tech companies met with the Irish government to discuss Ireland’s position on new EU legislation and requested that no notes be taken from the meeting. This particular meeting was the one on September 21, between Robert Troy, Minister of the Department of Business, Commerce and Employment, and companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, LinkedIn, Airbnb and Vodafone.
Purpose of meeting was to “inform our national position” ahead of negotiating with other counties. But no press release, no detailed notes, exempt from lobbying register and list of attendees not published pic.twitter.com/ONJt1Mw66e
— Aaron Rogan (@AarRogan) November 14, 2021
The Digital Services Act (DSA) proposal was not well received by all member states, especially Ireland, which considered as a “red line” the erosion of the principle that different countries have the responsibility for supervision, as described Euractiv.
Extreme slowness in data protection
This lukewarm response from Ireland to certain actions has resulted in criticism from other European countries. Last April, the French Minister of Telecommunications, Cédric O, expressed that “the Irish DPC has finally started to investigate Facebook’s data breaches. I hope they respond to the unacceptable situation that has affected millions of French citizens. If not, in Europe we will have to draw some conclusions about the data protection framework “.
It refers to the fact that 98% of technology data protection cases in Ireland are unsolved. Only 4 of the 164 cases for violation of the GDPR had been resolved at the beginning of September. “Ireland is the EU’s biggest data protection bottleneck”, affirmed the Irish Civil Liberties Council (ICCL).
The organization points out that the Irish body is responsible for applying the data protection regulations in the cases of large technology companies, since it is in Ireland where they have their headquarters. “As a result, the application of the EU GDPR against big technologies is paralyzed by the fact that Ireland does not deliver the draft decisions on cross-border cases,” they summarized.
Frances Haugen, the former product manager of Facebook, who has brought to light different reports about Facebook, assured during his speech in the European Parliament that Ireland has a “conflict of interest” with the regulation of Big Tech due to the benefits that these companies bring to the country. A delicate position where the battle no longer revolves around the taxes they have to pay these companies, but the regulations that should apply to them.
Image | Alejandro Luengo