Pro-Brexit Leave EU campaign facing data misuse fines

Firmino celebrates a goal against Red Star in Champions League group action

Firmino celebrates a goal against Red Star in Champions League group action

The U.K. data commissioner has fined a campaign backing Britain's departure from the European Union and an insurance company founded by its millionaire backer a total of 135,000 pounds ($176,000) for breaches of data laws.

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

The report added: "We are investigating allegations that Eldon Insurance Services Limited shared customer data obtained for insurance purposes with Leave.EU".

Leave.EU was also fined 15,000 pounds for a separate breach in which nearly 300,000 emails were sent to Eldon customers with a newsletter for the Brexit campaign group.

"A self-regulatory approach will not guarantee consistency, rigour or shore up public confidence", said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham, launching a 111 page report into the "use of data analytics for political purposes" by her office.

Mr Banks, 52, is a self-made millionaire who has donated big sums to anti-EU political causes including UKIP ahead of the 2016 referendum.

Banks played down the announcement.

"We established that this incident occurred on 16 September 2015, when Leave.EU marketing staff sent an email newsletter, intended for Leave.EU subscribers, to more than 319,000 email addresses on Eldon's customer database".

The Vote Leave campaign has been fined and reported to the police by the UK's elections regulator for deliberately falsifying its campaign expenses for the Brexit referendum.

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

But giving evidence to parliament's inquiry into fake news on Tuesday, Denham told MPs she had "concerns about ongoing misuse of personal data" at Banks, Eldon Insurance and Leave.EU.

"We may never know whether individuals were unknowingly influenced to vote a certain way in either the UK EU referendum or in the United States election campaigns", she said.

The Information Commissioner said it was still looking at how the Remain side of the referendum campaign handled personal data.

The fines "could be significantly higher under data protection law if we find misdeeds", she told the Commons digital, culture, media and sport committee.

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