Colin Murphy: Is Sinn Féin’s Abú database a step into dangerous territory?

The questions being asked of the party by the Data Protection Commissioner on Sinn Féin‘s alleged gathering of intelligence on political opinions on a national level are legitimate ones

A Sinn Féin election agent wearing a Mary Lou McDonald sticker during the election in February 2020: it was reported that the party has built a national database of voters in which it allegedly records intelligence on our political opinions. Photo: Getty

Data protection can seem like a very abstract issue, but its roots are anything but. In the 1930s, the Nazis pioneered the automated mass processing of population data using early IBM technology.

By registering people by ethnicity and other criteria, they created the means by which they could later sort the Untermensch, or “inferior people”, from the rest, ultimately facilitating the Holocaust. After the war, the Stasi in East Germany built a notorious archive on ...