London Labour Lead Halves

London Labour’s lead over the Tories has dropped from 22 points to 10 points since the 2017 general election. Swinson has a +2 personal approval rating, Boris has a negative rating of -29 and Corbyn is through the floor on -45.

With Brexit the most important issue by far for Londoners, Professor Philip Cowley of QMUL reckons on these numbers Labour looks likely to lose seats.

“Compared to the position in 2017, these figures mean a fall of 16 points in the Labour share of the vote and just a four point drop in the Conservative share in practice, assuming no change by polling day, this would almost certainly mean seats being lost by Labour and gained by the Conservatives”.

Early days yet…

Tories Start 16% Ahead, Curtice Gives Stark Warning

The Tories start the election campaign with a 16 point lead over Labour, who in-turn will find solace from being 9% clear of the Lib Dems. Still lots of undecideds in play for all parties…

However, with First Past the Post and the differences in voting behaviour from region to region, polling expert Sir John Curtice has issued a stark warning to the soaring Tories; predicting there will be over 100 seats won by parties other than the Conservatives and Labour.

If the Tories fail to win a majority, Labour will have a much more clear shot at finding coalition bedfellows. Strap in for weeks of psephological speculation…

SNP Data Gathering Hypocrisy

Like almost every millennial, Mhairi Black was tweeting nonsense last night. Her target? The very standard Tory operation to gather data on sympathetic voters. Linking to a CCHQ-run website calledGet Brexit Done – Tell your MP to back an election, Black wrote:

“The Tories have launched a data mining website called get-brexit-done.com

Under the giant SEND button there’s then some tiny text explaining that by clicking the giant send button, you’re consenting to CCHQ emailing you everything they’re up to, which seems dubious at best.”

SNP MPs and MSP piled in on the shocking discovery, condemning the non-branded data mining and the emails it sent to remain MPs. The same MPs who, until 2018, were responsible for a website called www.ref.scot – a totally unbranded website bar a tiny sentence at the bottom saying it was promoted by the SNP.

The SNP also have six campaigns running on their own party’s website, which similarly collect your name, email address and postcode once you press SEND. The greatest hypocrisy, however, is the SNP criticising the Tories’ data strategy, when only one year ago they were found out to have been buying data on British voters from NationBuilder for seven years – a company accused by Facebook of violating its users’ privacy.

Experian Snubs Brexit Party Despite Working With Labour and Tories

Amid the perennial spectacle of Carole Cadwalladr trying to milk the activities of a small over-hyped data company for all it’s worth, the tinfoil hat brigade have been remarkably unfussed about an organisation that has been amassing one of the largest databases of personal information in the UK for over 30 years. They claim to process a staggering 750 million data records from 600 sources about UK citizens each month, holding data on 51 million individuals in Britain. They’ve also regularly run data-driven marketing campaigns for the Labour Party for over a decade, culminating in a major data scandal last year. The credit rating agency Experian…

They even boast of being able to provide “actionable insight on every UK consumer, household and location” – exactly the sort of ‘micro-targeting’ that normally gets Carole’s antennae spinning like a washing machine. Top tip for “fearless investigative journalists”: micro-targeting by Obama or the Labour Party = good, microtargeting by Leavers or Tories = bad.

Experian claim that their data “segments UK consumers through financial behaviour, demographic classification, digital behaviour and buying habits”, giving their clients the opportunity to tailor marketing campaigns using 500+ variables. Clearly they’re happy for corporates and political parties to “meet your data self” too, for the right price…

When they’re not running their irritating “data self” ads, Experian have also done work for the Tories and the Better Together campaign in the 2014 Scottish referendum, while they still host Labour’s main ‘Contact Creator’ database. So the Brexit Party were surprised to find that when they approached Experian as well, they initially made good progress in their discussions before unexpectedly being told:

“Experian has taken the decision to not provide services to any organisation which is explicitly campaigning for or against Britain’s exit from the European Union. As a consequence we are not able to help you on this occasion.”

Presumably they’ll be immediately cancelling all of their lucrative contracts with the officially Remain-campaigning Labour Party too then…

Information Commissioner Fines Arron Banks £120,000

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 is set to review how both are complying with data protection laws. However this is down from the £135,000 the ICO provisionally announced in £120,000…

The ICO investigation found that Arron Banks’ Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance were closely linked with the result that Leave.EU used Eldon Insurance customers’ details unlawfully to send almost 300,000 political marketing messages. Leave.EU has been fined £15,000 for this breach. The ICO is warning Banks that it is a criminal offence to obstruct an ICO audit or destroy information covered by it and that they plan to go into the joint Leave.EU/Eldon Insurance offices and assess staff and documentation…

They also found that Eldon Insurance carried out two unlawful direct marketing campaigns. The campaigns involved the sending of over one million emails to Leave.EU subscribers without sufficient consent. Leave.EU has been fined £45,000 and Eldon Insurance has been fined £60,000 for the breach. Worth remembering that this was non-political advertising after the referendum – meanwhile the Lib Dems are still under investigation for selling data to the Remain campaign during the referendum…

People’s Vote Under ICO Investigation

Guido can shed more light on the Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into the use of data by campaigns during the EU referendum.

The report reveals that the ICO is “still looking” into breaches of data by BSE that may require further action. After the referendum, BSE became Open Britain, and this summer re-branded again as the ironically named People’s Vote campaign. All while the investigation was ongoing…

The campaign’s re-branding leads to priceless tweets, but it doesn’t get them out of the serious ICO investigation.

The People’s Vote campaign is still under investigation by the ICO for potential serious breaches of data privacy.

“‘During the course of our investigation, we obtained information that the Liberal Democrats had sold the personal data of its party members to BSiE for approximately £100,000.”

“In June and July 2018, we served information notices on Open Britain, the successor organisation to BSiE, and the Liberal Democrats, under the DPA1998, to investigate these issues.”

“We are still looking at how the Remain side of the referendum campaign handled personal data, including the electoral roll, and will be considering whether there are any breaches of data protection or electoral law requiring further action.”

The ICO has placed an enforcement notice against AIQ handling any UK data in the course of its investigation. Shouldn’t the ICO – in the same way – suspend the People’s Vote campaign from using any UK data while they investigate and determine the source of the data?

UPDATE: BSE responds: “This assertion is entirely untrue. Britain Stronger in Europe did not receive, or pay for, Liberal Democrat members’ personal data at any point.”

There Was No Labour Conference Bounce

Whilst Corbynistas grabbed onto a BMG poll that showed a post-conference Labour bounce, it looked like an outlier and the new poll from YouGov suggests it was very much so. This latest YouGov poll will not reflect any movement post the Tory conference. Given the general consensus was that the Tories had a neutral to positive conference we should not expect a downward move. It is a reflection on how badly Corbyn is perceived by voters that 8 years into Tory government the opposition still trails.

It is a reflection on how bad Theresa May is perceived by voters that she still trails don’t know for Prime Minister by 5 percentage points…

Security Blunder Leaks Conference Delegates Data

The Tory Conference app has been hacked and people have got hold of Boris Johnson’s mobile number, prank called the Secretary of State for Defence Gavin Williamson, changed Michael Gove’s profile pic to Rupert Murdoch… well you get the idea.  When Guido says “hacked” he actually means you just had to enter Boris’s email address and you were logged in as him. Which is exactly what Guardian columnist Dawn Foster did when she logged on as Boris Johnson. She then – illegally in a breach of data protection laws – tweeted out the exploit to all and sundry leading to a massive data breach being opened for almost an hour before CCHQ managed to shut down all the personalisation functions. The app store says the app was heavily downloaded today…

Guido is a bit late to reporting this because for the last 3 hours he has being trying to discover what personal data of his is out in the public domain. Under the GDPR law it is an obligation for organisations to inform individuals without undue delay. They must also

  • ensure you have robust breach detection, investigation and internal reporting procedures in place. This will facilitate decision-making about whether or not you need to notify the relevant supervisory authority and the affected individuals.
  • keep a record of any personal data breaches, regardless of whether you are required to notify.

Guido contacted the CCHQ press office trying to find out what was going on after he saw his conference pass photo was out there on the internet and he got a prank text message. At the time of going to pixel attendees have not even been informed of the data breach unless they logged in before the personalisation functionality was removed. If like Guido you had no idea about the existence of the app never mind that your data was on it, you will not have been informed. Journalists, MPs, ministers, diplomats and regular delegates who have been compromised will not know unless they are told by CCHQ – as required by law. So that warning needs to go out, now.

Brexit Britain Beating Eurozone Growth

GDP growth rates for this year’s second quarter are in, and despite uncertainty, Brexit Britain bowling along with impressive and better than expected 0.4% growth, double the rate of the first quarter, despite the noticeable ramp up in continuity project fear’s dire no-deal warnings. Meanwhile the Eurozone grew on average by 0.3%, and France by just 0.2%. It’s a good job we aren’t into the Eurozone…

Twice as Many Voters Favour “No Deal” than “Chequers Deal”

A Mirror/ComRes poll out today shows that twice as many voters want to just leave the EU with no deal – effectively on the same WTO terms that the UK already trades with most of the world – rather than stay entangled with the EU with the Chequers deal. Downing Street has totally failed to sell this version of a deal to the public, whether they be leave or remain backing. There is also little chance of it surviving contact with parliament and the European Commission.

Labour Party’s Data Broker Fined £140,000 By Information Commissioner

The company from which Labour bought the personal data of more than a million individuals during the 2017 election has been fined £140,000 by the Information Commissioner for a “serious contravention” of the Data Protection Act.

The Information Commissioner’s Office ruled that Lifecycle Marketing Mother and Baby Ltd (LCMB), trading as Emma’s Diary

“…contravened DPP1 by selling the personal data of more than 1 million individuals to the Labour Party for use in the Labour Party’s general election campaign in 2AL7 without informing those individuals that it might do so, As a result, LCMB processed that personal data unfairly and without satisfying any processing condition under Schedule 2 DPA.”

The ICO found:

In May 2017, LCMB supplied 7,065,220 records to Experian Marketing Services under a data supply agreement listing the Labour Party as Experian’s client. The data supply agreement specified the delivery date for the data as 5 May 2017…

Each record comprised the following personal data: name of parent, household address, the presence of children up to 5 years old and date of birth of both mother and child. The records thus comprised the personal data of both mothers and young children. LCMB obtained that personal data via its online registration on its website and via an offline registration form.

Experian, apparently acting as an agent or processor on behalf of the Labour Party, loaded those records onto a database it hosted for the Labour Party to assist the Labour Party with a direct marketing mail campaign for the general election in 2017. LCMB told the Commissioner that the records it supplied would have helped the Labour Party send political marketing communications to people with young children about, for example, Labour’s intention to protect Sure Start centres. This was done in the constituencies for 106 parliamentary seats.

According to LCMB, the records it disclosed were deleted by Experian following the general election on B June 2017. In its letter to the Commissioner of 30 January 2018, LCMB told the Commissioner that “All data supplied agreed to be contacted via the postal channel and by 3rd party marketers and the usage of the mums’ data is fully outlined within or Privacy Policy,” It transpired, however, that this was not the case.

A Labour spokesman says the party will no longer be using the company and will be reviewing how they purchase their data. Labour they insist bought the data in good faith. There is no indication the party itself has broken the law.

“We welcome the ICO’s report. The Labour Party holds data from a variety of sources, like all UK political parties. We have neither bought nor used Emma’s Diary data since the 2017 general election and we will be reviewing our approach to acquiring data from third parties in light of the ICO’s report.”

Labour MPs have been tweeting about the ICO report on Facebook data breaches all day. Oddly none have mentioned the above finding. Sure Carole Cadwalladr will be splashing on this for the Observer this weekend…

YouGov: Tory Membership’s Confidence in May Plummets

In the space of just nine months the number of Leave-backing Tories with confidence in Theresa May has fallen to barely half (52%). The much fewer Remain backing Tories who have confidence is stable (78%). The number of normally loyal Leave-backing Tories who want her to go immediately has jumped from 6% to 25%. Incidentally, these figures correlate quite well with the ConservativeHome readers panel numbers. Dangerous times for Theresa…

Reader Poll: Deal or No Deal?

Poll: Tories Will Lose Votes if They Cross Brexit Red Lines

As the Chequers meeting gets underway a new poll reveals voters will turn away from the Tories if they fail to implement Brexit. According to the data from BMG Research commissioned by Change Britain:

  • 32% of voters would be less likely to vote Conservative if the Government agreed a deal which results in UK laws being subject to rulings by EU courts, compared to just 6% who would be more likely to support the party. 
[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

41% of Labour Facebook Posts This Month About JezFest

A statistical analysis by Guido’s data bods shows that 41% of Labour’s Facebook posts this month have been about the Labour Live festival. Of the 46 posts by the Labour Party Facebook account since 1 June, 19 have been attempts to flog or give away tickets to the troubled JezFest event.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

590 Million Facebook Profiles Potentially Harvested By Guardian App

The Observer’s main revelation over the last couple of weeks has been their claim that Cambridge Analytica harvested data from 50 million Facebook accounts. They found that CA’s Aleksander Kogan collected data from 270,000 accounts and was able to access data from all their friends – on average 185 users per account – making up a total of 50 million.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Guardian App Harvests Your and Your Friends’ Facebook Data

The Guardian app harvests your personal data from your Facebook page and also the data of all of your friends – the exact same central allegation the Observer has been making against Cambridge Analytica. The privacy policy of the Guardian Facebook app makes clear if you don’t grant permission to have your and your friends’ social media data harvested you cannot use the app:

When you first access the App, for example by clicking on a link to a Guardian article from your Facebook newsfeed, you will be presented with a Facebook permissions page, which will advise you about the Facebook information you will be sharing with the App and other Facebook users.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Ex-LibDem Colleagues Raise Doubts Over “Walter Mitty” Observer Whistleblower

Former LibDem colleagues of the Observer’s data harvesting whistleblower have some interesting stories to tell. The party will not comment on staffing matters but a LibDem source says Chris Wylie was employed on a fixed-term contract which was not renewed. It is fair to say they were unimpressed with his work.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Observer’s Whistleblower Personally Offered to Harvest Data For Vote Leave

The whistleblower who says social media data harvesting is “grossly unethical” personally wrote a pitch to Vote Leave offering to harvest data for them during the referendum campaign, Guido can reveal. Christopher Wylie, the pink-haired former Cambridge Analytica employee turned Observer whistleblower, has spent the last week talking up his opposition to data harvesting:

“It was a grossly unethical experiment because you are playing with an entire country, the psychology of an entire country without their consent or awareness… It’s like Nixon on steroids.”

Yet after Wylie left Cambridge Analytica, he sent a pitch to Vote Leave offering to harvest data for them during the referendum.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Fake Hat-Gate Claims Had Social Media Reach of Over 2 Million

Fake claims that Newsnight photoshopped Jeremy Corbyn to make him look like a “Soviet stooge” had a social media reach of over 2 million, analysis by Guido can reveal. By contrast, tweets from the BBC debunking the untrue claims received just 2,400 retweets.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +

Seen Elsewhere