Taoiseach Enda Kenny
At the weekend.
Internal Facebook] documents reveal a secretive global lobbying operation targeting hundreds of legislators and regulators in an attempt to procure influence across the world.
Carole Cadwalladr and Duncan Campbell, in The Observer, report:
…Most revealingly, it includes details of the company’s “great relationship” with Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister at the time, one of a number of people it describes as “friends of Facebook”.
Ireland plays a key role in regulating technology companies in Europe because its data protection commissioner acts for all 28 member states.
The memo has inflamed data protection advocates, who have long complained about the company’s “cosy” relationship with the Irish government.
The memo notes Kenny’s “appreciation” for Facebook’s decision to locate its headquarters in Dublin and points out that the new proposed data protection legislation was a “threat to jobs, innovation and economic growth in Europe”.
It then goes on to say that Ireland is poised to take on the presidency of the EU and therefore has the “opportunity to influence the European Data Directive decisions”.
It makes the extraordinary claim that Kenny offered to use the “significant influence” of the EU presidency as a means of influencing other EU member states “even though technically Ireland is supposed to remain neutral in this role”.
It goes on: “The prime minister committed to using their EU presidency to achieve a positive outcome on the directive.” Kenny, who resigned from office in 2017, did not respond to the Observer’s request for comment.
Simon Carswell, in The Irish Times, reported:
The State’s current and former data watchdogs have said former taoiseach Enda Kenny did not lobby them to take a softer approach on regulating internet privacy covering personal data on behalf of Facebook.
Helen Dixon, the Data Protection Commissioner since 2014, and her predecessor Billy Hawkes said that neither Mr Kenny nor his officials while he was taoiseach from 2011 to 2017 sought to influence the regulation of data protection rules to the benefit of the social media giant.
The current and former data regulator were responding to reports in the Observer and Computer Weekly that Mr Kenny helped the web company influence EU data protection laws.