ICO opens investigation into political data analytics | DMA

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ICO opens investigation into political data analytics


The Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has announced an investigation into the use of data analytics by political parties

In a blog on the ICO website, the Information Commissioner outlines her plans for the investigation, particularly around the EU referendum.

"Having considered the evidence we have already gathered I have decided to open a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.

"This will involve deepening our current activity to explore practices deployed during the UK’s EU Referendum campaign but potentially also in other campaigns.

"Given the transnational nature of data the investigation will involve exploring how companies operating internationally deploy such practices with impact or handling of data in the UK," she says.

The ICO has updated its guidance for political campaigns, and indicated three principles:

  • Even where personal data is publicly accessible, this does not automatically mean that it can be re-used for another purpose
  • If a political organisation collects and processes this data, then it is a data controller and has to comply with the DPA
  • If a political organisation commissions a third party to carry out analytics, then that company is likely to be a data processor – and must have a written contract.

“Given the big data revolution, it is understandable that political campaigns are exploring the potential of advanced data analysis tools to help win votes.

"The public have the right to expect that this takes place in accordance with the law as it relates to data protection and electronic marketing," she said.

A summary of the ICO's stance is available here.

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