Information Commissioner to investigate data use in Facebook campaign targeting

Written by Nicholas Mairs on 19 May 2017 in News

UK Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham is to look into use of personal data on social media in political campaigning

Social media - Image credit: Pixabay

Political parties are facing a formal investigation into their use of Facebook users' private data as a means of targeting them with personalised adverts.

The Information Commissioner’s Office is to launch a wider assessment of how the social media platform is being used in political campaigning, following allegations involving an analytics firm linked to a Brexit campaign.

The investigation in to data protection risks follows a call by Labour’s Stephen Kinnock for the Electoral Commission to look in to allegations that Leave.EU had not declared the role of an analytics firm during the Brexit campaign.


Elizabeth Denham, the UK’s Information Commissioner told BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show there were “a lot of question marks” around how voters’ “very precise” data is being used.

“There has been some strong allegations made about the ability of companies to work with campaigns to microtarget individuals so using their digital trails online to be able to identify where their political leanings may be and target them in some way.”

Denham said her office had met with the major political parties in recent weeks and that they have “refreshed” data protection guidance for both parties and campaigns.

“All of this is to remind them that the law applies to the collection of data even when we are talking about Facebook posts and Twitter feeds. Again, that is data,” she added.

She said allegations had been made that digital trails were used to analyse and then used to “serve up ads that are micro-targeted to those individuals”.

“I think if political campaigns or third party companies are able to gather up very precise digital trails to then individually target people I think that is an area where they are going to be off-side the law,” she added.



Related Articles

MPs accuse Facebook of shirking leadership over fake news
18 February 2019

Mark Zuckerberg failed to show the “personal responsibility that should be expected from someone who sits at the top of one of the world’s biggest companies,” the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport...

Digital workshops launched for Inverness businesses
13 February 2019

Workshops will provide businesses with guidance on the use of digital channels to help increase sales, increase brand awareness and improve customer support

Related Sponsored Articles

Balancing security and digital transformation
24 October 2018

With the annual worldwide cost of cybercrime set to double from $3tn in 2015 to $6tn by 2021, BT offers advice on how chief information security officers can better...

Associate feature: Who keeps your organisation secure?
19 February 2018

BT's Amy Lemberger argues that having the right security in place to protect your organisation is no longer just an option. It is a necessity.

Associate feature: 5 ways IoT is transforming the public sector
5 February 2018

Vodafone explores some of the ways IoT is significantly improving public sector service delivery

Share this page