ICO set to audit data protection practices at Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance post-fines

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued fines totalling £120,000 to an EU Referendum campaign and an insurance company for “serious breaches” of electronic marketing laws and, furthermore, is set to review how both are complying with data protection laws.

The ICO announced an audit and issued a preliminary enforcement notice as well as three notices of intent to fine Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance (trading as Go Skippy Insurance) in November last year as part of its investigation into data analytics for political purposes.

After considering the companies’ representations, the ICO has issued the fines, confirming a change to one amount, with the other two remaining unchanged. The regulator has also issued two assessment notices to Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance to inform both organisations that they will be audited.

The ICO investigation found that Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance were closely linked. Systems for segregating the personal data of insurance customers’ from that of political subscribers’ were ineffective.

This resulted in Leave.EU using Eldon Insurance customers’ details unlawfully to send almost 300,000 political marketing messages. Leave.EU has been fined £15,000 for this breach.

Eldon Insurance carried out two unlawful direct marketing campaigns. The campaigns involved the sending of over one million e-mails to Leave.EU subscribers without sufficient consent. Leave.EU has been fined £45,00 and Eldon Insurance £60,000 for the breach.

Sensitive personal data

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham

Elizabeth Denham, the Information Commissioner, said: “It’s deeply concerning that sensitive personal data gathered for political purposes was later used for insurance purposes and vice versa. It should never have happened. We have been told both organisations have made improvements and learned from these events, but the ICO will now audit the organisations to determine how they are using customers’ personal information.”

The assessment notices allow the ICO access to Leave.EU and Eldon’s joint offices, staff and documentation. It’s a criminal offence to obstruct an ICO audit or destroy information covered by it.

The ICO’s audit team will be looking at data protection practices including observing how personal data is processed, considering what policies and procedures are in place and looking at the types of training made available for staff. The ICO will also be interviewing key employees across both organisations including the directors, staff and their data protection officers. The ICO’s audit findings will be made public at the conclusion of its work.

Eldon Insurance has also received an enforcement notice from the ICO ordering the company to take steps to ensure that it complies with electronic marketing regulations.

The ICO has published reports as part of its wide-ranging data analytics investigation. ‘Democracy Disrupted? Personal Information and Political Influence’ looks at the broader policy issues identified during the investigation along with findings and the ICO’s recommendations for future action.

About the Author
Brian Sims BA (Hons) Hon FSyI, Editor, Risk UK (Pro-Activ Publications) Beginning his career in professional journalism at The Builder Group in March 1992, Brian was appointed Editor of Security Management Today in November 2000 having spent eight years in engineering journalism across two titles: Building Services Journal and Light & Lighting. In 2005, Brian received the BSIA Chairman’s Award for Promoting The Security Industry and, a year later, the Skills for Security Special Award for an Outstanding Contribution to the Security Business Sector. In 2008, Brian was The Security Institute’s nomination for the Association of Security Consultants’ highly prestigious Imbert Prize and, in 2013, was a nominated finalist for the Institute's George van Schalkwyk Award. An Honorary Fellow of The Security Institute, Brian serves as a Judge for the BSIA’s Security Personnel of the Year Awards and the Securitas Good Customer Award. Between 2008 and 2014, Brian pioneered the use of digital media across the security sector, including webinars and Audio Shows. Brian’s actively involved in 50-plus security groups on LinkedIn and hosts the popular Risk UK Twitter site. Brian is a frequent speaker on the conference circuit. He has organised and chaired conference programmes for both IFSEC International and ASIS International and has been published in the national media. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk UK at Pro-Activ Publications in July 2014 and as Editor of The Paper (Pro-Activ Publications' dedicated business newspaper for security professionals) in September 2015. Brian was appointed Editor of Risk Xtra at Pro-Activ Publications in May 2018.

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