Ireland reappoints regulator overseeing tech giants for another term


DUBLIN, May 28 (Reuters) - Ireland has reappointed the head of its powerful Data Protection Commission, which regulates the European operations of global tech giants like Facebook FB.O and Google GOOGL.O, for a second five-year term.

Ireland hosts the European headquarters of a number of U.S. technology firms. That makes the Irish commissioner, headed by Helen Dixon, the lead regulator in the bloc under the EU's General Data Protection Regulation's (GDPR) "One Stop Shop" regime introduced last year.

The new rules give regulators the power to impose fines for violations of up to 4% of a company's global revenue or 20 million euros ($22 million), whichever is higher.

Since her appointment in 2014, Data Protection Commissioner Dixon has roughly quadrupled the staff and budget of the regulator.

Irish Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said Dixon was overseeing a number of significant investigations and it was "crucial that she be allowed to see them through to completion."

Critics like privacy campaigner Max Schrems, however, have accused Dixon and her office of being too soft on the internet giants, a charge she and the Irish government have repeatedly rejected.

Dixon's office has 51 large-scale investigations under way, 17 of which relate to large technology platforms, including seven into Facebook.

The probes spanned the services of Facebook subsidiaries WhatsApp and Instagram as well as Apple AAPL.O, LinkedIn MSFT.O and Twitter TWTR.N with the first sets of investigations due to conclude over the summer.

"At this early but critical juncture of GDPR implementation and enforcement, continuity is important to drive clarity for organisations," Dixon said in a statement.

($1 = 0.8940 euros)

(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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