The correspondence took place in 2014 as Facebook was fighting two battles on two continents: one against the IRS in the US, which found Facebook’s Irish operations presented a possible $5bn tax liability; and the other against allegations Facebook Ireland handed users’ private data to US spies.
Facebook chief, Sheryl Sandberg, personally lobbied the Taoiseach at one-to-one meetings and in correspondence, on who would be appointed as Ireland’s next Data Protection Commissioner.
The social media giant is facing an investigation under the new Data Protection Commissioner, Helen Dixon, into allegations that Facebook used its Irish headquarters to transfer the data of millions of EU Facebook users to US spies under the Prism surveillance programme.
Given extraordinary access to the Taoiseach, Ms Sandberg lobbied Enda Kenny personally at meetings in Davos and California, and in subsequent correspondence, trying to influence his appointment of a successor to Billy Hawkes, who was due to retire from the role of Data Protection Commissioner.
Ms Sandberg doesn’t specifically name any preferences she has for potential successors in the documentation. She makes clear, however, that Facebook is interested in who the appointment will be, and that whoever is appointed is a ‘strong candidate’ as Mr Hawkes was a ‘hard act to follow’.
She says in the documentation that she hopes whoever is appointed to the position will be able to collaborate with Facebook and provide leadership on the data protection issue in Europe.