The Irish data protection authority (DPA) is preparing to release the findings of an investigation into the data breaches that occurred at Yahoo, including the theft of 500 million customer records in 2014 and one billion the following year.
According to the Irish data protection commissioner Helen Dixon, the investigation shows that Yahoo's European unit is at least in part to blame for the 2014 data breach.
"We're of the view that it could have been detected sooner and the risks mitigated sooner," Dixon told Bloomberg. "We intend to make our findings and impose remedial action where the findings need us to do that."
What that remedial action will be is as yet unclear but Yahoo, now owned by Verizon, can anticipate being required to make some substantial changes to its operations and can also expect a fine.
The Irish DPA, which rules on data protection issues over companies based in Ireland had long been thought of as a soft touch, tending to go along with the Irish government and its desire to attract global tech giants with a low tax regime. Many tech companies including Apple, Ebay, Amazon and Facebook have their European headquarters in the country.
However, Dixon rejected this saying her office is expanding to comprise 100 employees by the end of 2017, an increase of 80 people in two years.
This is a result of the greater authority given to DPAs by the incoming EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which also allows for the imposition of fines of up to €20m or four per cent of global turnover, whichever is the greater.
Dixon said she is prepared to use all the powers at her disposal to bring companies into line.
"The only way to start driving a better compliance culture is to have those types of enforcement tools in our toolkit," she said.
The Irish DPA has also been looking at whether Facebook's transfers of personal data to the US are legal, and also into the social media giants stalled plans to mine the personal data of its acquisition WhatsApp without the consent of its users. A decision on the latter is expected in the summer.
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