Sinn Féin should decommission its database to reassure Irish voters it takes their data privacy rights seriously, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Senator John Cummins was speaking in the Seanad today (Friday) after the Sinn Féin party leader, Mary Lou McDonald confirmed her party had recently committed two data breaches.
Senator Cummins said: “The breaches of Data Protection laws which were reported in the media and confirmed by the Sinn Féin party leader yesterday are extremely alarming and they raise fundamental questions about how secure the democratic system in this country is from outside interference. Some might dismiss this because they want the story to disappear but in the context of the Electoral Reform Bill, it’s critical that we examine these questions and put safeguards in place.
“It seems that Sinn Féin is operating a transnational cyber web of databases with unknown individuals being trained to elicit information from people on social media that they can combine with their voter system and to borrow a phrase from the party’s training manual ‘pinpoint them in the real world’.
“There is a reason why this voter system was located in London and not Ireland; there’s a reason why it was transferred to Frankfurt and not to Ireland. Is it because Sinn Féin want to keep it at arm’s length from the Data Protection Commissioner? Is it because this secret database is in fact a well-financed Sinn Féin asset and wasn’t declared by the party in their SIPO returns?
“Sinn Féin says that the Abú system is just the electoral register but that argument doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. There is no such thing as a single centralised electoral register in this State, rather there are 31 individual registers across 31 Local Authorities. It seems the State protected Oireachtas system is good enough for every other party but not for Sinn Féin.
“I welcome the news that the UK Data watchdog has joined the Irish DPC in seeking answers from Sinn Féin and I would expect their German counterpart to do likewise.
“However for Sinn Féin to give real assurances to Irish voters that it takes their data privacy rights seriously, it should decommission its database,” Senator Cummins concluded.