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Information Commissioner's Office report to Parliament: Investigation into the use of data analytics in political campaigns

6 November 2018

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham appeared before the DCMS Committee today to discuss her report in an evidence session as part of the on-going inquiry into Disinformation and 'fake news'.

Chair's comment

Comment by DCMS Committee Chair Damian Collins MP:

“I welcome today's report from the Information Commissioner's Office as a sign of the determination of the regulatory authorities to root out breaches of the law that threaten to undermine our democratic political system.  It puts on notice any organisation that considers using people's data indiscriminately in a battle to win votes. They will be subject to intense scrutiny.

“Elizabeth Denham has identified disturbing disrespect for the data of voters and prospective voters. This report rightly focuses on the lack of concern and the disregard for the privacy and rights of UK voters by Facebook, data brokers and others.

“It is welcomed that the ICO will carry out an audit to identify to what extent Eldon Insurance failed to keep separate its customers' data and political data used by Leave.EU, and that they will investigate concerns of customers who fear their data may have been misused.

“On Facebook, I welcome the Information Commissioner's comments that the platform needs to change and take much greater responsibility, and her call for Facebook to be subject to stricter regulation and oversight. It is noted that she thinks it would be ‘very useful' for Mark Zuckerberg to appear in person to answer questions from my committee.

“My committee has called for a tech levy on companies to pay for digital literacy and education – I'm encouraged to hear her endorse this as a ‘fine idea'.

“Looking to the future, we hear loudly the opinion of the Information Commissioner that the time for self-regulation is over and a time of accountability is here where parliament sets the objectives and outcomes for social media companies to follow, rather than the regulator taking on individual complaints.”

Further information

Image: Parliamentary copyright