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Why I applied for Europe’s top data protection job – and why you should too

5.-data-protectionBy Simon Davies

From next week Europe won’t have anyone in charge of data protection for its institutions. The European Commission kind of forgot to advertise the job. So here – to save the day – is my application for the post of European Data Protection Supervisor. You should do the same. It pays quite well.

 

9th January, 2014

José Manuel Barroso
President of the European Commission
1049 Brussels

Dear President Barroso,

Application for the post of European Data Protection Supervisor

I’m sorry to burden you with this correspondence. I know you’re a busy man, but I didn’t know who else to contact. The above post falls vacant next Thursday and you haven’t yet found anyone for the position. That means in seven days there’ll be no-one managing privacy protection for EU institutions, which I know must worry you.

Even though you never found anyone to fill the role, the vacancy notice was never renewed, which is a little difficult for me to understand in light of everything that’s going on with Data Protection in Europe

I see the closing date for applications was more than three months ago. Even though you never found anyone to fill the role, the vacancy notice was never renewed, which is a little difficult for me to understand in light of everything that’s going on with Data Protection in Europe, but I’m sure there must be a reason for this odd situation.

Anyway, I was doing some digging around and found out that you have considered five applicants. My friend David, who runs a shoe repair shop near where I live in London, advertised a vacancy for a job and received more than 400 applications, so maybe I can put you in touch with each other so he can help you get a better hit rate. I know he’s had great success putting ads up in local newsagents, so that might work for you too.

Whatever, you rejected all five applicants because they didn’t have enough experience. You can’t get the staff these days, I know.

I understand some people are saying you never renewed the vacancy notice because you don’t actually want a European data protection leader at the exact moment when you need one, but I don’t believe that claim. Europe has a wonderful reputation over its protection – for example – of the right to agricultural subsidies, personal liability protection for bankers and buttressing oil investment, so why wouldn’t you invest in protecting human rights?

Well, here I am! If being a specialist legal expert or having run a data protection authority aren’t adequate qualifications for the job, then I may be just what you’re looking for.

You might be inclined to dismiss me out of hand, but let’s view this aspect through a process of reduction.

You have a responsibility to ensure that the legal rights of EU citizens are upheld, and you do that by appointing the best people for the job. Now, the most spectacularly qualified people haven’t been able to avert a major data protection crisis that imperils EU rights. Ergo, a spectacularly unqualified person may achieve your prime directive. This seems logical to me.

Well, when I say “spectacularly unqualified” I do in fact fail only one element of the criteria for the job: “proven experience in data protection issues, either as a member of a data protection supervisory authority or in a large private or public organisation.”

I might not have that level of employment experience, but I do have a lifetime of understanding why regulatory institutions suck

This is a matter of interpretation. I might not have that level of employment experience, but I do have a lifetime of understanding why regulatory institutions suck, and that has to count for something, surely. I mean, your “spectacularly qualified” people supported a 1995 Directive that allowed Ireland and the UK to become a gaping wound in data protection in return for corporate subsidies, and then the same “spectacularly qualified” people backed a Regulation that half of Europe won’t support.

You know from personal experience that this element of the job description is rubbish. I mean, you were an academic and then became Prime Minister of Portugal and now you run the European Commission. Talk about winging it!

Let’s be straight with each other. This job is hardly top of the pile is it. I mean, with a budget of around €8M we’re looking at a data protection outlay of less than two cents per person per year. This means, for example, that Luxembourg can look fondly on your commitment to data protection knowing that you’re chucking ten thousand euro a year at it. Or, to put things in perspective, a very cheap car.

In view of this reality it probably doesn’t matter who you hire for the job. The important element is that they believe in making data protection actually work in Europe. And that, I believe, I can do.

Yours sincerely

 

Simon Davies