UKIP refuses to disclose use of data in Brexit campaign, says ICO

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has named right-wing party UKIP as one of the four organisations to have refused in disclosing details about how they had used data analytics during the Brexit campaign.

Denham said that all the four organisations have appealed against the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) notice to the Information Rights Tribunal.

The Commissioner has been probing the use of data analytics by various organisations for political reasons. She has called on over 30 organisations, which includes all the major UK political parties along with the ones that offered data to help with their campaigning, to provide evidence.

The Commissioner named AggregateIQ among the organisations which have been put under notice. Denham said that the Canadian-based company has been used by a number of the campaigns.

According to the Commissioner, the investigation has been designed to assess how personal details were studied to target people as part of political campaigns, with a particular focus on the Brexit referendum.

The Commissioner said that while some organisations have been co-operative, others have been difficult to work with, indicating that UKIP came under the second category.

Denham said that in certain cases, her office could not get the specific information of work that helped organisations with their EU referendum campaigns.

The Commissioner said that she will utilise every legal tool that is available and work with authorities outside the UK to get answers on behalf of citizens.

Denham calling the probe to be a high priority for the ICO said that her office is seeking to know if there was a legal basis to use personal details of citizens for political reasons. She also questioned whether they had a way of exercising their privacy rights during the campaigning.

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Denham said in a blog post: “Our investigation will describe for the public, civil society, academics, decision makers and political campaigners the realities of the data driven political campaign.

“Are the rules for the use of personal data in political campaigns clear? What data sources are used for profiling the electorate for micro targeting? Are there no-go areas in the context of data analytics and social media in elections?”

The Information Commissioner also revealed that the Electoral Commission is also checking funding related with the Referendum and that the ICO will continue to work with them in this regard.