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Pro-Brexit campaign facing data misuse fines

AFP  |  London 

Companies linked to a leading pro-donor are being fined a total of 135,000 pounds for data protection breaches during Britain's 2016 referendum, officials said on Tuesday.

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

The (ICO) regulator said it had issued a notice of intent to fine Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance, trading as GoSkippy, 60,000 pounds each for "serious breaches" of

"More than one million emails were sent to Leave.EU subscribers over two separate periods which also included marketing for GoSkippy services, without their consent," in a breach of regulations, the ICO said.

The ICO also intends to fine Leave.EU a further 15,000 pounds for a "separate, serious breach" after almost 300,000 emails were sent to customers containing a Leave.EU newsletter.

It said it was also investigating allegations that Eldon shared customer data obtained for purposes with Leave.EU.

Banks played down the announcement.

"The ICO find no evidence of a grand data conspiracy and find we may have accidentally sent a newsletter to customers," Banks said on

"Gosh, we communicated with our supporters and offered them a 10 per cent discount after the vote! So what?"

Vote Leave was the official pro-campaign in Britain's 2016 referendum on its membership, in which 52 per cent backed quitting the bloc. Leave.EU was the biggest unofficial campaign.

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

It was announced last week that the is probing his alleged use of offshore companies to finance Leave.EU.

has been probing the use of data analytics for political purposes.

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

"We need to look at whether the processes are working to be able to separate the data from political campaigning and from insurance use," she said.

"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.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Tue, November 06 2018. 20:00 IST