The Brexit Party is being investigated following complaints it failed to hand over the private information it holds on voters, Sky News can reveal.
The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) launched the investigation in response to complaints the Brexit Party had failed to reply requests for information.
Under information safety regulation, anybody can ask an organisation for a duplicate of their private data, a course of referred to as a Subject Access Request.
Unless the request is very sophisticated, they’re entitled to a response inside a month.
A Brexit Party spokesperson instructed Sky News the vast majority of Subject Access Requests dated again to the European elections in May.
“During the European elections, there was a coordinated attempt by campaigners to flood The Brexit Party with Subject Access Requests,” the spokesperson stated.
“All political parties are allowed access to the electoral register so they can send literature to voters. However, inaccurate claims circulated on social media, claiming we had acquired people’s addresses improperly, leading to the written requests asking for access to information.”
Using Twitter’s search operate, Sky News discovered many pro-EU accounts calling for folks to file Subject Access Requests to the The Brexit Party so as to discover out why that they had been despatched a celebration leaflet throughout the European elections.
Most of the tweets describe wanting to know “how they got your personal details & what they’re going to do with them?”
However, some did counsel Subject Access Requests could possibly be used to intrude with the Brexit Party’s work.
“European GDPR rules can be weaponised to stop political parties using our data to manipulate us,” wrote one on 8 May.
“If a thousand people demanded to see all their data, any organisation would be very busy, to say the least…”
Under information safety regulation, an organisation doesn’t have to reply to requests which might be “manifestly unfounded or excessive”.
Sky News understands the information watchdog has given the Brexit Party a deadline of 22 November to reply the requests for information.
The Brexit Party spokesperson stated: “We have responded to the overwhelming majority of letters. Around 0.2% are presently being handled and we are going to meet the deadline agreed with the ICO.
“The Brexit Party follows all laws and works to meet the very best requirements.”
The ICO instructed Sky News it could not touch upon the investigation.
“As a public physique the ICO has to think about its obligations throughout the pre-election interval,” it said. “Our regulatory work continues as regular however we won’t be commenting publicly on each subject raised throughout the basic election.
“We will however, be closely monitoring how personal data is being used during political campaigning and making sure that all parties and campaigns are aware of their responsibilities under data protection and direct marketing laws.”
According to the ICO’s steerage, the watchdog “cannot punish an organisation for breaking the law (apart from in the most serious cases).”
Instead, it “can give them advice and ask them to solve the problem.”
This just isn’t the primary time a political celebration has failed to reply to Subject Access Requests. In August, Sky News reported that the overwhelming majority of complaints to the ICO about political events’ use of knowledge have been directed at Labour, though this information didn’t embody the Brexit Party.
Most of the complaints in opposition to Labour involved its failure to reply to Subject Access Requests.
The means to entry private information is thought to be a foundational information safety proper, because it acts as a “gateway” for different rights, together with the precise to rectification and the precise to erasure.
Pascal Crowe, Data and Democracy Project Officer at marketing campaign group Open Rights Group, instructed Sky News the investigation confirmed “the increasing importance of data rights in the political sphere”.
He stated: “Given the controversies of recent years, all political parties should equip themselves to deal with Subject Access Requests at scale. Without this capacity they can expect to see more ICO investigations and fines.”
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