Pro-Brexit Leave EU campaign facing data misuse fines

Evarado Alatorre
Noviembre 9, 2018

The United Kingdom's data watchdog has announced it would slap a fine on Banks's insurance company and the campaign that played a decisive role in the 2016 European Union membership referendum outcome in Britain.

The Leave.EU campaign, bankrolled by businessman Arron Banks, used the personal data of customers of an insurance company owned by the businessman to send them political marketing material unlawfully.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said it had issued "notices of intent" to Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance for "serious breaches" of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

Leave.EU faces a £15,000 fine after nearly 330,000 customers of Eldon, which trades as GoSkippy, were sent an email containing a Leave.EU newsletter, according to the ICO.

The Electoral Commission announced last week there were reasonable grounds to suspect that Mr Banks was not the true source of £8m in loans made to the Better for the Country organisation, which ran his group Leave.EU.

"We established that this incident occurred on 16 September 2015, when Leave.EU marketing staff sent an email newsletter, intended for Leave.EU subscribers, to more than 319,000 email addresses on Eldon's customer database".

Hitting back on Twitter, Banks appeared to dismiss the seriousness of the claims, writing: "Gosh we communicated with our supporters and offered then a 10% Brexit discount after the vote!"

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Leave.EU was the biggest unofficial campaign.

Vote Leave was the official pro-Brexit campaign in Britain's 2016 referendum on its European Union membership, in which 52 percent backed quitting the bloc.

Since then, Banks has faced questions about his tactics and finances in the referendum.

The Information Commissioner said it was still looking at how the Remain side of the referendum campaign handled personal data.

"We found no evidence that Big Data Dolphins ever actually functioned, and no evidence that Leave.EU, Eldon or any associated companies had transferred any personal data relating to United Kingdom citizens to the UoM".

Giving evidence to the parliamentary inquiry into disinformation and fake news on Tuesday, Denham voiced "concerns about ongoing misuse of personal data" at Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance.

"The sharing of information has gone both ways" at Banks' businesses, she added, and "the fines could be significantly higher" if further "misdeeds" were uncovered.

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