Anti-EU campaign accused of misusing personal data

Information commissioner writes to Ukip donor about alleged breach of communication regulations
Information commissioner writes to Ukip donor about alleged breach of communication regulations
Adam Bienkov By

Ukip donor Aaron Banks today announced a new anti-EU umbrella campaign called Leave.EU.

Banks told the Today programme that "we've signed up nearly 100,000 people in just five weeks," to the campaign.

But who are these people and how exactly have they been signed up?

Well Politics.co.uk understands that the Information Commissioner's Office has already written to Aaron Banks' campaign - under it's former name of InTheKnow.EU - about their alleged misuse of personal data.


The ICO received a complaint earlier this month from one eurosceptic figure who received an unsolicited email from Banks' campaign.

The email, addressed from Banks, claimed that "Over 60,000 supporters are in the know!" and went on to encourage the recipients to sign up as registered supporters.

One recipient who had not previously had any dealings with the campaign, replied to Banks, asking where he had got their email address from, and accused them of "harvesting email addresses".

Banks said he was "not sure" how the organisation had received the recipient's details, but admitted that supporters had been asked to supply "10 emails of friends of family to build out (sic) database".

"I can assure you with (sic) have not purchased any data from Anyone. We have 70,000 people registered and people have been asked to supply 10 emails of friends or family to build out (sic) database," Banks wrote.

Banks said the recipient's address would be removed from their datatbase. However, the recipient believed this was a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications (EC Directive) Regulations (PECR).

According to the regulations, organisations have to receive consent from recipients before sending them any communications:

"Organisations can generally only send marketing texts or emails to individuals… if that person has specifically consented to receiving them. Indirect consent (i.e. consent originally given to a third party) is unlikely to be sufficient," the regulation states.

As a result, the recipient complained to the ICO about this apparent breach of the regulations.

The ICO have since written to Banks' campaign, to "inform them of their obligations under the PECR and to ask them to suppress [the recipient's] email address from their databases."

"We have asked they take this action immediately."

When contacted by Politics.co.uk, a spokesperson for InTheKnow claimed that Banks had failed to explain himself properly in the email.

They denied that any members of the campaign had been asked to send the email addresses of their friends or family to InTheKnow.EU and promised to send further copies of their communications, in order to prove this. They have so far failed to do so.

 

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