By Cate McCurry, PA
Sinn Féin has denied it is “microtargeting” people using data collected from Facebook and the electoral register.
Eoin Ó Broin said the party’s system of using public information about voters is “fully compliant” with the law.
Sinn Féin has responded to the Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) after it sought information about how it uses its database and information collected from social media.
Commissioner Helen Dixon wrote to the party seeking confirmation about its Abú system and whether it is GDPR compliant.
Mr Ó Broin said the party has provided full responses to all the questions.
“Our view is we’re fully compliant with the Data Protection Act of 2018,” he added.
“What we do with the electoral register is what any professional party does, we use the register to target our voters, and to ensure we get our vote out on election day — that is legally permissible under the Data Protection Act.
“We’ve responded to the Data Protection Commissioner, and if she has any concerns or if she has any suggested improvements to our system, of course we’ll be glad to take those on board.
“We have to comply with the law, and we believe we are fully compliant with the law, and the Data Protection Commissioner has asked us a series of questions and we’ve answered those.
Everyone has the right to the protection of personal data concerning themselves. Such data must be processed fairly for specified purposes and on the basis of the consent of the person concerned, or some other legitimate basis laid down by law https://t.co/KlrlPq3O4d pic.twitter.com/FyY9hz5qnG
— Data Protection Commission Ireland (@DPCIreland) April 15, 2021
“Then we’ll all listen very carefully to what she has to say.
“I’m sure we’d be willing to share that with (the media) so you can have full sight of that.”
It was revealed by the Sunday Independent that party officials are being told to use personal information posted online to establish the address of a potential voter.
Mr Ó Broin also refused to confirm which country within the European Union the database is kept.
“We don’t have to say what country within the European Union it is but it has to be stored within the European Union,” he added.
The party’s housing spokesman likened their complex data system to using pen and paper before digital registers were introduced.
“This isn’t something new. This is a professional way of going about elections, and any information that we have is fully consistent with the Data Protection Act of 2018, and so it should be,” he added.
“We don’t pay anything for the system, we don’t charge anybody for the system. It’s an electoral register system, a digital database that we use just like we used to use pen and paper before we had access to digital technology.
“What we use the electoral register for is what every political party knows their job is, which is to engage with the electorate, target your vote and get them out.”
He added: “There are our claims that we are data mining from Facebook. It is not true. Any information I get from anybody on Facebook, they give it to me consensually – I asked him for it, they provide it – and I use that data for the purposes it’s provided, as the law requires.”