DCU's newly launched taught Masters programme in Data Protection and Privacy Law is jointly hosted by the School of Computing and the School of Law and Government.
The Masters programme comes in the wake of EU’s comprehensive data protection rules, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which has led to the creation of 1000 posts as Data Protection Officers in Ireland as companies seek graduates who have the necessary skills to help them meet and build upon these rules.
DCU's new Masters in Data Protection and Privacy Law is in collaboration with the Irish Computer Society. This unique degree combines the understanding and expertise of the fields of Law and Computing and gives the gradutes the understanding of legal challenges and technical solutions required to safely handle data in modern era where businesses are increasingly data-driven and dominated by buzzwords like “Big Data”, “Artificial Intelligence (AI)” and “Analytics”. The degree's importance is underlined by recent data privacy failures such as Facebook-Cambridge Analytica saga.
The EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is designed to protect data privacy rights and harmonise data protection law across the EU. The GDPR has changed the way in which personal data must be collected, stored and processed and nearly all businesses have been affected. There is a widespread shortage in skills in this area with the Irish Data Protection Commissioner reporting over 4,000 GDPR-related complaints in the first year of it being in force (since May 2018). A key company role mandated by GDPR is the Data Protection Officer, a board level post that oversees data protection in an organisation. The graduates of DCU’s new programme will be ideally suited for this role.
Jim Gregg, Head of Corporate Sales at the Irish Computer Society, will speak at the launch of the programme on the importance of the role of Data Protection Officers.
In building the new programme, DCU has leveraged its world leading data governance research within the Science Foundation Ireland ADAPT Centre for Digital Content where staff study data management, data ethics and AI. The DCU School of Law and Government will provide advanced expertise in EU data protection law and International data privacy law. The new course will offer both part-time and full-time options, as either a 2 year or 1 year course respectively. Enrolment is through the postgraduate applications centre with course codes DC786 (full-time) and DC787 (part-time).
Professor Rory O’Connor, Head of the DCU School of Computing, said “This is an exciting collaboration between computer scientists and legal experts in Ireland that shows DCU leading European education and supporting local and international companies that want to harness the new opportunities provided by GDPR”.
Professor Iain McMenamin, Head of the School of Law and Government, affirmed “Today the job market requires increasingly multiskilled workers. Lawyers working in the field of digital technology should have a minimal knowledge of computing and computer scientists should be able to understand digital law and policies. Our new interdisciplinary masters aims to educate a new class of digital experts”.
The programme will be chaired by Assistant Professor Rob Brennan from the DCU School of Computing. Speaking of the launch he said: “GDPR means companies must understand their data and why they are collecting it – we will provide our graduates with the knowledge to design systems that can leverage this for business advantage as well as compliance.”.
Dr John Quinn from the DCU School of Law and Government, one of the original proposers of the programme, said that “There is an ever-increasing demand on legal professionals to be familiar with emerging technologies. This is most evident in the field of data privacy given the importance and value of personal data and the introduction of the GDPR. Graduates of this programme will be leading experts in both the technical and legal aspects of data protection.”