Saturday, January 18News For London

UK major parties accused of using illegal personal information for campaigning

*Photography: Fabio Angeli

A data rights group is accusing the Conservatives, Labour and Liberal Democrats of infringing the Data Protection Act 2018.

Open Rights Group has claimed the three UK biggest parties have used personal data without permission as part of their election campaign.

The organization has sent a letter to the parties over the issue. The document represents three individuals who have pledge the parties have used their data to obtain information for the campaign. The individuals urgent the parties give them an answer and stop processing their data.

Open Rights Group affirmed Tories, Labour, and Lib Dem had breached the Data Protection Act 2018. According to them, the Conservatives have used personal names and address to guess the age of one of the individuals; the Labour had returned incomprehensible data after an access request and, the Lib Dem have not provided the sources of third-party data. |

“We’re campaigning to stop political parties abusing personal data in their rush to try and win elections,” said Open Rights Group in an official statement sent to Westminster World this Monday, 9 December.

The group alleges three major parties are collecting data to target voters. The Lib Dem is scoring individuals on how they vote for Brexit. Labour is dividing people based on what do they think about housing, taxation, health, austerity, and Brexit. Meanwhile, Tories have a priority rating to determine who they should focus on the campaign. Liberal Democrats score table. *Image from Open Rights Group

“We’re worried that these practices are violating everyone’s rights to privacy and straining the trust and integrity in our democratic system through the increased opportunity of micro-targeting social media ads”, explained the group.

The three parties involved reply to the accusations to The Guardian. The Conservatives said they comply fully with all obligations. “Where individuals make requests to us regarding their data, we will always action these”, said the party. A Labour spokesman affirmed the party complies with the law and regulations for the digital campaign. And the Liberal Democrats said they would answer the individuals’ request.

The Article 6 of the General Data Protection Regulation 2018 says that the parties can only use data for political purposes if they have the individuals’ permission, or be able to show that it is a public interest or have a legitimate interest.

Open Rights Group alleged no UK political party has ever asked permission for their data profiling activity. “The sheer scope of personal data being processed, including through the use of profiling, rules out any claim that parties are serving a public or legitimate interest”, they said. The group said that depending on the response of the parties, they will take further legal actions.

The organization Privacy International has also request explanations from the UK parties.

The use of personal data for election purposes has become an issue over the last years. Interference in political campaigns has been happening around the world. The Cambridge Analytical scandal had revealed the massive use of data during the 2016 US presidential election. The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has confirmed last week the allegations that Cambridge Analytica deceived consumers by collecting personal information from tens of millions of Facebook users.