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#Snowman Series 11 – The First Victory

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J.J. PatrickUnited Kingdom / United States
#Snowman Series 11 – The First Victory
This investigation celebrates as the ICO launches a formal investigation into data analytics...

An independent an unfettered press is crucial to the survival of democracy. Especially under the dark clouds of Russian collusion, fake news, and voter manipulation.

The power of independent, investigative journalism has shown its worth today as the Information Commissioner opens a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes.

Following this article from the 28th of April 2017 and this second article from the 2nd of May 2017, I raised concerns directly with the ICO and the Electoral Commission - who were already investigating the matter.

One of the parties referred, SCL Group, also trading as Cambridge Analytica, responded to the articles with a press complaint. You can read my response here.

"The findings of this piece of investigative work have been referred to the Electoral Commission – as Leave.EU may have further undeclared donations of services within their complex company structure, taking them well beyond permissible campaign limits – and to the ICO due to the complex of issue of ‘sugging’ across multiple companies."

The ICO confirmed they had officially logged the details I referred on the 12th of May 2017.

Today, the Information Commissioner announced the formal investigation, saying: "Having considered the evidence we have already gathered I have decided to open a formal investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes. This will involve deepening our current activity to explore practices deployed during the UK’s EU Referendum campaign but potentially also in other campaigns. Given the transnational nature of data the investigation will involve exploring how companies operating internationally deploy such practices with impact or handling of data in the UK."

"Engagement with the electorate is vital to the democratic process. Given the big data revolution it is understandable that political campaigns are exploring the potential of advanced data analysis tools to help win votes. The public have the right to expect that this takes place in accordance with the law as it relates to data protection and electronic marketing."

"Shining a light on such practices will require detailed investigative work and engagement with a range of organisations – political parties and campaigns, data companies and social media platforms, as well as international cooperation. This investigation is a high priority for my office in our work to uphold the rights of individuals and ensure that political campaigners and companies providing services to political parties operate within UK law. We will provide an update later in the year."

"I am conscious that opening this formal investigation coincides with ongoing campaigning ahead of the General Election. The timing of my decision is unrelated to the current campaign but I would nonetheless remind all relevant organisations of the need to comply with the law."

"Shining a light on such practices will require detailed investigative work and engagement with a range of organisations – political parties and campaigns, data companies and social media platforms, as well as international cooperation. This investigation is a high priority for my office in our work to uphold the rights of individuals and ensure that political campaigners and companies providing services to political parties operate within UK law."

This investigation, along with other coverage, continues and you can support independent journalism like this directly at Byline or for further information click here.

It feels like a lifetime has passed since I sparked the last parliamentary inquiry in 2013, but today's news makes a good, early birthday present.

Thank you if you have been supporting me so far.

#brexit, #trump, #farage, #leave.eu, #ico, #psychometrics, #cambridge analytica, #scl, #voter manipulation, #data-laundering, #big data, #democracy, #ge17, #politics, #investigation, #snowman

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