UK government watchdog examining political use of data analytics

“Given the big data revolution, it is understandable that political campaigns are exploring the potential of advanced data analysis tools to help win votes,” Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, writes on the ICO’s blog. However, “the public have the right to expect” that this takes place in accordance with existing data protection laws, she adds.

Political parties are able to use Facebook to target voters with different messages, tailoring the advert to recipients based on their demographic. In the 2015 UK general election, the Conservative party spent £1.2 million on Facebook campaigns and the Labour party £16,000. It is expected that Labour will vastly increase that spend for the general election on 8 June….

Political parties and third-party companies are allowed to collect data from sites like Facebook and Twitter that lets them tailor these ads to broadly target different demographics. However, if those ads target identifiable individuals, it runs afoul of the law….(More)”