“Vindictive” ICO Hits Vote Leave With £40,000 Fine For Not Having Data They Agreed to Delete

The state’s war of attrition against Brexit is continuing to grind on with the Information Commissioner’s Office today taking the decision to slap Vote Leave with a monster fine of £40,000. The ICO’s justification for the fine was that Vote Leave had violated data protection laws because were unable to prove that text messages sent to voters had been done with their consent. The reason Vote Leave were unable to prove it was specifically because they deleted their entire database after the vote as agreed with the ICO before the referendum. A truly Kafka-esque perversion of justice…

The ICO’s best practice guidelines say that data controllers should delete data once it is no longer serving the purpose for which is collected, hence why Vote Leave specified in their data policy that they would delete all the data after the referendum. Meanwhile the Remain campaign – now in its third different incarnation as People’s Vote – kept its entire database from the referendum campaign and has continued to pump out messages to its database on an almost daily basis since the referendum. Funnily enough the regulators don’t have a problem with that…

A Vote Leave spokesman slammed the “vindictive” decision from the ICO, saying that it just “shows their desperation to pin something on us after we had rebutted all of their other ludicrous theories”:

“Fewer than 20 people made complaints about the 196,000 text messages we sent during the referendum campaign. This is far lower than the commercial texting campaigns who have previously been fined by the ICO. Vote Leave was operating in a highly political environment, which makes false allegations much more likely. It is therefore highly likely that the tiny number of people who complained to the ICO were doing so for political purposes.

“The ICO took over two years to bring these complaints to our attention, when they could easily have done so in the summer of 2016. Unlike the Stronger In campaign, we deleted all of our data after the referendum as agreed with the ICO, so their decision to prosecute us now feels particularly vindictive.

“Both during and after the referendum, Vote Leave complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. We have exchanged 46 letters with the ICO since the referendum, most of them refuting conspiracy theories peddled by people unhappy with the referendum result. To be fined £40,000 for fewer than 20 complaints which they were aware of over two years ago, shows their desperation to pin something on us after we had rebutted all of their other ludicrous theories.”

Brexiteers who think that Brexit will somehow come out more to their liking after a two-year delay or a second referendum only need to look at the way Brexit campaigners have been relentlessly pursued since the referendum to see how it will play out in reality. It’s now or never for Brexit…


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