Political parties have been warned that the data regulator will be watching over their general election campaigning activity to ensure it stays within the law.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has written to 13 main parties explaining that complying with personal data protection and electronic marketing laws is essential to trust and confidence in the democratic system.
“People expect their personal information to be used in line with the law, and, where that doesn’t happen in digital campaigning, there’s a danger that public trust and confidence in the broader democracy process is damaged,” information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said in the letter.
“It’s crucial that candidates and campaigners get this right, and the ICO will be monitoring the situation throughout.”
The regulator is directing parties to a draft framework code of practice for the use of personal data in political campaigning and sets out five important requirements to comply with the law before, during and after voters go to the polls on 12 December.
An ICO investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes uncovered a number of concerns linked to the use of commercial behavioural advertising techniques and the lack of transparency of profiling during recent political campaigns.
The organisation said it found several areas where action was required to improve each of the parties’ compliance with data protection law, which they had already been warned about in July 2018.
“People’s awareness of their data protection rights has never been greater, and their expectations that those rights are respected never higher,” Denham added.
We need your help ...
The coronavirus pandemic is changing our world, fast. And we will do all we can to keep bringing you news and analysis throughout. But we are worried about maintaining enough income to pay our staff and minimal overheads.
Now, more than ever, we need a vibrant, independent media that holds the government to account and calls it out when it puts vested economic interests above human lives. We need a media that shows solidarity with the people most affected by the crisis – and one that can help to build a world based on collaboration and compassion.
We have been fighting against an establishment that is trying to shut us down. And like most independent media, we don’t have the deep pockets of investors to call on to bail us out.
Can you help by chipping in a few pounds each month?