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Vanishing act Sinn Féin’s controversial Abú voter database is taken offline again

Party switched it to a new web address but this is down

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David Cullinane

David Cullinane

David Cullinane

The online portal for Sinn Féin’s controversial voter database has been taken offline for a second time.

The party shut the original portal for the Abú system after details of its existence were published by the Irish Independent.

Sinn Féin said it closed down the password-protected website containing the names, addresses and perceived voting intentions of millions of voters as a “precautionary security measure”.

The party's health spokesperson David Cullinane later said the Abú system had been “compromised” when the website domain was published.

The original website was sfabu.com and the database was later moved to sfcanvass.ie.

However, now the second web portal has gone off line. Sinn Féin has not responded to questions about why it has been taken down.

Sinn Féin would also not say if the Abú system had been compromised again as Mr Cullinane suggested happened to the first portal.

Last week Sinn Fein published a privacy policy for its internal database which informed the public it planned to store their personal information on servers in Frankfurt, Germany, for up to ten years.

The policy was published days after it was contacted by the Data Protection Commissioner when details of the database were revealed.

The decision to publish a privacy policy on the party’s website came after several Sinn Féin frontbench TDs claimed their internal database was in full compliance with data protection legislation.

Pearse Doherty, Eoin Ó Broin and Louise O’Reilly publicly continuously claimed the Abú systems were fully compliant with data protection requirements.

However, Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald later admitted on RTÉ’s Prime Time that Sinn Féin’s secret database was in breach of at least two data protection rules.

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She revealed her party did not have a data protection officer registered with the Data Protection Commissioner to oversee and safeguard the personal information of millions of people.

Ms McDonald conceded the party did not carry out a data protection risk assessment on its Abú system which the party moved to Frankfurt from London after Brexit.

Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon has said every voter has right to know if a political party is holding personal information on them gathered from difference sources.

Ms Dixon told an Oireachtas Justice Committee hearing there was an obligation on parties to tell people if they are compiling personal information on them.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told his parliamentary party he believed Ms Dixon “confirmed Fine Gael’s view” on the database at the Oireachtas Justice Committee hearing on Tuesday.

“Mr Varadkar said a politician using the local electoral register is a lot different from the electoral registers being collated into a centralised base which is searchable by people, equipped with passwords, in Belfast or abroad,” a Fine Gael statement said.

“The meeting heard it was processing data without consent and quite possibly against the law. He said the database could have been compromised and the issue is something that needs to be pursued.”

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