Expert says most Irish political parties have breached data protection rules

Expert Says Most Irish Political Parties Have Breached Data Protection Rules
Sinn Féin's Abú database has come under the spotlight recently.
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Most political parties in Ireland have breached data protection rules at some point, according to an expert.

TJ McIntyre, associate professor in the Sutherland School of Law at University College Dublin, an expert in data protection and retention, told the Irish Examiner that it is not surprising to learn that political parties have breached GDPR rules.

“Drawing attention to the issue by any one party is kind of like organising a circular firing squad,” he said.

Dr McIntyre, the chair of Digital Rights Ireland, spoke to the Irish Examiner following political parties denying their websites were in breach of EU online privacy laws.

Sinn Féin's Abú database has come under the microscope in recent days over questions about whether it breached data protection regulations.

The Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) has asked the party for information on how it protects its online data.


Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald has admitted that her party had been in breach of data protection laws, however, she said the Abú system only contained information contained on the electoral register.

Websites for TDs from Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, the Green Party, Sinn Féin, and the Social Democrats were not compliant with all of the required GDPR and ePrivacy Directive guidelines, according to analysis by the Irish Examiner.

Mike O'Neill, chief technical officer of Baycloud, which offers data protection compliance to major companies, said: "Political parties are pretty bad at this stuff as a lot of them rely on social media. If it's functionality you require, you find a replacement, it's not hugely complicated but needs to be done.”


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