Poll finds strong support for policies combating nefarious online campaigning activity

A poll commissioned by civil society organisation Open Rights Group has found strong public support for policies designed to curb the worst excesses of online campaigning.

Open Rights Group commissioned YouGov, a polling company, to conduct a poll of public attitudes towards data driven campaigning practices amongst people living in the most marginal constituencies in Great Britain. Marginal constituencies are likely to be on the receiving end of heightened campaigning activities by political parties. The fieldwork for the poll began on 06.11.2019 (the start of the election campaign) and ended on 13.11.2019.

Overall a majority of people were aware of the practice of targeting or tailoring political adverts (63%). In particular, a clear majority of young people (75%) were aware of political microtargeting. When asked about the following election campaign techniques, a majority of people thought that targeting/tailoring adverts, ‘dark ads’ (online adverts only seen by the recipient) and election campaign money without a declared source, should not be allowed (58%, 54% and 74%, respectively). In particular, older people were more likely to think these practices should not occur.

There was strong support for a range of policy responses, including enhanced regulation of how parties can campaign and advertise online (75%) and digital literacy training (71%). The most popular policy overall was tougher punishments (82%), inclusive of fines and convictions. The level of support for these policies was broadly demographically agnostic. There is a clear appetite for reform.

These results suggest very low public support for the way in which the ‘most digital election campaign ever’ is likely to be conducted, and puts pressure on political campaigners who use these methods.

Pascal Crowe, Data and Democracy Project Officer for Open Rights Group, said: 

“Regardless of who wins the General Election the proper regulation of our campaigning infrastructure must be a legislative priority.

There is a clear gulf between what the public wants from politicians on this issue and what they are delivering.

It has been three years since Cambridge Analytica. Reform is well overdue. “

Notes to Editors

Open Rights Group are petitioning political parties to stop using our personal data for political advantage. To show your support, sign here:


All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 1,015 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 6th – 13th November 2019. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted to be representative of a selection of 28 marginal constituencies.

A full breakdown of results can be found here:


A list of the 28 constituencies polled can be found here:


For further information please contact Federica Dadone, Communication Officer for Open Rights Group, at press@openrightsgroup.org or 0207 0961079.