UK data watchdog hits Brexit campaign group with fine for unlawful marketing

1 Feb 2019137 Views

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The UK Information Commissioner’s office has fined pro-Brexit campaign Leave.eu and a linked insurance company due to marketing law breaches.

Pro-Brexit campaign group Leave.eu and a linked insurance company have been issued fines totalling £120,000 by the UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). According to an ICO statement issued today (1 February), Leave.eu and Brexit supporter Arron Banks’ Eldon Insurance were closely linked.

It added that although systems to segregate personal data of insurance customers and political subscribers were in place, they were ineffective and not fit for purpose.

Brexit campaign group used data from insurance firm

It was found that Leave.eu used Eldon Insurance customer details to send close to 300,000 political marketing emails. For this breach, a £15,000 fine was incurred.

The ICO said that Eldon Insurance carried out two unlawful direct marketing campaigns, which included sending more than 1m emails to Leave.eu subscribers without adequate consent. Leave.eu was fined £45,000 for its role in these two incidents, while Eldon Insurance has incurred a £60,000 fine.

Concerning use of personal data

UK information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “It is deeply concerning that sensitive personal data gathered for political purposes was later used for insurance purposes and vice versa. It should never have happened.

“We have been told both organisations have made improvements and learned from these events. But the ICO will now audit the organisations to determine how they are using customers’ personal information.”

The ICO is going ahead with the audits and will need to access the joint offices of Leave.eu and Eldon Insurance. The audit team will be examining data protection practices, including “observing how personal data is processed, considering what policies and procedures are in place, and looking at the types of training made available for staff”. Key employees will also be interviewed and the findings will be made public once work concludes.

The body stressed that obstructing such an audit is a criminal offence.

Eldon Insurance also received an enforcement notice from the ICO, ordering the firm to take steps to ensure it complies with digital marketing rules.

Ellen Tannam is a writer covering all manner of business and tech subjects

editorial@siliconrepublic.com