Sinn Féin must answer why they stored the data and voting intentions of millions of Irish people, initially in London and then Frankfurt, without their consent, Fine Gael Senator John Cummins has said.
The Waterford Senator said Deputy Mary Lou McDonald’s responses on Newstalk radio today, when questioned about Sinn Féin’s transnational international database and social media operation, have serious consequences for the entire Irish electorate.
“Until this story was published a week ago, not a single person, bar senior Sinn Féin figures involved in this secret operation, were aware that their data was being kept abroad and then used to compare to a major social media operation to elicit their future voting intentions,” Senator Cummins said.
“There is a list of outstanding questions. They must be answered by Deputy McDonald’s party who until today kept it hidden that all our data was stored in London, and then moved because of Brexit, to Frankfurt.”
The questions include:
- When was the database first initiated? When was it moved from London to Frankfurt? Why was it moved? The Brexit vote took place in 2016, how long has this been in place?
- Did they ask anyone in the electorate could they store personal information on them first in London and then in Frankfurt?
- How are they are eliciting information from voters and storing it on their Abu system?
- Why did they take down their Abu system after it was first reported? What work have they done since on it?
- Who built this sophisticated voter system, how long has it been in existence and how was it paid for?
- Is it a case that Sinn Féin are circumventing SIPO rules by basing the system outside of this state?
- Will they allow the Irish data protection commissioner access to their Frankfurt database?
- Is Sinn Féin registered as the data controller in both countries?
- Mary Lou says it’s just the electoral register but there are registers for each local authority – a single national register does not exist.
“These are just some of the questions which the party leader must address”, continued Senator Cummins.
“The Irish Independent has published details of an internal Sinn Féin training manual which states ‘Facebook will show you the name of the person and often roughly where they live. By engaging with them you may be able to elicit more specific information that will help you pinpoint them in the real world. You can use the search function in the Abú system to find the person you have engaged with online, tag them as a social media engager and follow up with a canvass on their doorstep.’
“No comment has been forthcoming on this practice from Sinn Féin.
“What we are talking about here is not information gathered on the canvass trail, it is information which is being elicited on social media and cross checked and inputted on their custom-built voter system. Do Sinn Féin deny knowledge of the content in their own training manual?
“Why did it take Deputy McDonald so long to answer a simple question? The answer had to be dragged out of her. God knows what Sinn Féin have been doing with that system for last two weeks to try bring it into compliance,” Senator Cummins said.