INM data breach highlights urgent need to address media ownership issues

Social Democrats Political Director Anne-Marie McNally has once again highlighted the significant issues with media ownership & control in Ireland in light of today’s Sunday Times revelations regarding Independent News and Media (INM).

The Sunday Times reports that the Office of the Director of Corporate Enforcement (ODCE) has discovered paperwork showing that an off-shore company beneficially owned by Denis O’Brien, INM’s largest shareholder, paid the invoices associated with an email trawl of INM servers which has potentially compromised the personal information, research and sources of journalists working for INM.

Ms McNally said:

“Numerous academic reports into the issue of media ownership in Ireland have described Ireland as ‘High Risk’ due to our lack of plurality. Too much of our media is concentrated in the hands of a very small number of extremely powerful individuals.”

“While the risks to democracy of such a lack of plurality are paramount, today’s revelations show just how toxic that risk can be when those powerful individuals in control of media outlets decide to exert their power. There are issues here of the gravest ethical and legal concern regarding the blurring of lines between a majority shareholder, the chairman of INM at the time of the breach, and the accessing of extremely sensitive information in INM journalist’s email accounts.”

“The issues raised by the ODCE once again give rise to questions about how we in Ireland regulate media ownership. When Fine Gael & Fianna Fáil voted against the Social Democrats Media Ownership Bill in 2017, the issue of control of our media was once again kicked to touch by the governing parties. Today’s revelations make it clear that we cannot continue to avoid the conversation.”

Ends

1st April 2018