Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Datacloud Ireland 2017: Minister of State reaffirms government’s commitment to launch new data centre planning regime in wake of Apple’s $1bn data centre delay to ‘build a new Ireland’

Parliament also working at speed on data protection bill as foreign data amounts to more than 90% of the data stored in the country.

The Irish government has today reaffirmed its commitment to look into the country’s current data centre legislation which has caused a two-year delay to a large-scale Apple data centre project.

Speaking at the inaugural Datacloud Ireland congress, Pat Breen, TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Trade, Employment, Business, EU Digital Single Market and Data Protection, said the government is invested in maintaining Ireland’s top place in the data centre sector by adapting the country’s laws to avoid another delay like the Apple one.

He said: “Building on the strong record we have for location choice for data centres, Ireland is a world class location for data centres, and the global cloud providers choosing Ireland prove that.

“The government is committed to ensuring that Ireland remains a world leader location for data activities, including the construction of data centres.

“Many of you will be aware of one data centre proposal delays. The government is studying new laws on data centre planning proposals.

“We are aware of it and we are looking into it. We are committed to find a solution and improve the industry and the building of data centres.”

Mr Breen said this is part of the government’s wider action plan that looks into the future of the Irish economy.

“Ireland is the fastest growing economy in Europe. We are looking for a new Ireland, a new future, and we want to ensure Ireland is a leader in data,” he said. “It is a fantastic opportunity for us today to lead the industry.”

In addition to looking into the planning regulations for data centres, the minister also said the state is working on improving its energy infrastructure and improving energy consumption.

The pledge has been made three days after Microsoft was reported to be going to build a power station to help power its data centre needs in Dublin as the local grid goes under expansion to cope with the large demand for data centre business.

Mr Breen said: “We are committed in improving our energy infrastructure and improving our energy consumption. Having the personnel and the expertise for these data centres is also important, and we have it.

“Our climate here, and is very beneficial when it comes to reducing the energy footprint. We have a weather system here that is ideal.

“We also have a very strong data privacy set up in place. We have a strong and stable data protection, which is part of the new Ireland.”

According to the minister, the new planning regime, the energy, the people and the data protection landscape currently in place and being worked on, including GDPR, will help expand data centre operations in Ireland and deliver a new Ireland.

Speaking specifically on GDPR, Mr Breen said: “I want to reinstate the government’s commitment to build on this work to attract companies to build new data centres here.

“There are Irish organisations out there fully prepared for GDPR. We have to be on the message all the time here. We are preparing legislation, the data protection bill. That is well advanced in parliament, and we hope to have that ready in this [parliamentary] session.

“From our point of view, government and ministers, we will  be very vocal about this. We will be very supportive in this and involved in this with the Data Commissioner’s office.

“I believe we cannot be complacent here. We will work in the months ahead; we will reach to all audiences across the country.”

In addition to touring Ireland, the minister also said he will work to get the GDPR message beyond the country’s borders.

He mentioned the “events in the UK and across the Atlantic as well which are impacting data protection”.

He made a direct reference to Brexit, which “is a big issue in Ireland, more than any other country”.

“Brexit affects us the most. That is why we are so vocal about it with the European Commission and others.

“Data protection keeps us very busy and is a key area for us. It impacts on all of us, impacts the economy, impacts society.

“I firmly believe Ireland is in place to deal with the challenges in the [data and data centre] industry.”