Ireland’s Data Protection Commissioner, Athlone woman Helen Dixon. Her office imposed a €1.2 billion fine on Meta this week.

Athlone woman's office fines Meta a record €1.2 billion

Ireland's Data Protection Commission, which is led by Athlone native Helen Dixon, has imposed a record fine of €1.2 billion on Facebook's owner, Meta, for violating EU data privacy rules.

The fine, announced on Monday, followed a lengthy investigation into transfers by Facebook of Europeans' personal data to the US.

This is the sixth large General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) penalty against Meta and its subsidiaries in Ireland, with the previous five amounting to a total of just over €1 billion.

The New York Times described Monday's ruling as "potentially one of the most consequential in the five years since the European Union enacted the landmark data privacy law known as GDPR."

Ms Dixon was first appointed as Ireland's Data Protection Commissioner in 2014, and was re-appointed for a second five-year term in the role in 2019.

She is a former Our Lady's Bower student and a daughter of Máire and the late Brigadier General Pat Dixon of Sli an Aifrinn.

Ms Dixon was the first woman to be appointed Data Protection Commissioner, having previously worked in the Companies Registration Office, with the Department of Jobs, and with two US multinationals.

Meta indicated on Monday that it planned to appeal the €1.2 billion fine, claiming it was being unfairly singled out for data-sharing practices used by thousands of companies.