Sinn Féin facing criticism over targeting voters on Facebook

Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) seeking information about party's collection and use of data 
Sinn Féin facing criticism over targeting voters on Facebook

It emerged last weekend that Sinn Féin had asked officials working for it to use personal information posted on people's Facebook pages to identify where they live. Stock Image.

A Government minister has taken aim at Sinn Féin over its targeting of voters on Facebook, claiming Mary-Lou McDonald's party would be "shouting from high heaven" if it was any other party.

Data Protection Commissioner (DPC) Helen Dixon has written to Sinn Féin seeking information about its collection and use of data from Facebook and the electoral register.

Calling on Sinn Féin to publicly address the issue, Minister for Public Expenditure and reform, Michael McGrath said: "I think undoubtedly if the shoe was on the other foot and these questions were being raised by the State's watchdog in relation to Fianna Fáil, or Fine Gael or any other party, Sinn Féin would be shouting from high heaven.

"I think the sooner we hear from them in detail to answer the questions the better," said Mr McGrath.

He said there is "an element" of the party keeping their heads down on the issue.

Doorstep canvass

It is understood this data was collected Facebook to target voters for engagement, including a doorstep canvass.

It emerged last weekend that the party had asked officials working for it to use personal information posted on people's Facebook pages to identify where they live.

Mr McGrath said: "The Data Protection Commissioner believes that they have questions to answer, and I would expect Sinn Féin as the main party of opposition to fully co-operate.

"I think that the sooner that they can answer those questions publicly to address any concerns that members of the public have about how their data is being used the better," Mr McGrath told Newstalk Breakfast.

The DPC also want to examine whether the party's actions comply with data protection legislation and GDPR requirements.

The Sinn Féin party has already said it will engage with the DPC on the matter.

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