Privacy Campaigning Organisation, the Open Rights Group has urged the Conservatives to confirm if they have stopped Racial and Religious profiling

An audit of the UK political parties by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) published yesterday unearthed that the Conservative party profiled 10 million UK voters by ethnicity and religion.

ORG has written to ask the Conservatives to confirm whether this practice has stopped, and whether the data has been deleted.

Profiling at this scale is likely to have taken place without the knowledge or informed consent of the voters. 

A summary report of data protection audits released yesterday by the ICO details how several UK political parties purchased ‘onomastic data’ that made inferences about voters based on their names. However the report suggests that the Conservatives alone purchased data that attempted to make inferences about voters’ ethnicity, country of origin and religion.

Although it is known that the Labour party used to conduct similar activity, the party are on record in this report and elsewhere that they stopped this activity in 2018 due to changes in data protection law. 

The ICO report does not explain why they have not taken enforcement action against what appears to be a clear breach of data protection law. 

The findings that the Conservative party has been scoring individuals on their religion is backed up by research conducted by ORG earlier this year. 

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

“We have written to the Conservative party urging them to confirm that they have stopped Racial and Religious profiling of voters. Such divisive and potentially unlawful practices need ceased. We have asked the Conservative party to come clean on this matter. 

“We also urge the ICO to take action. The job of the regulator is to enforce the law. If it does not crack down, there is no incentive for better behaviour. The ICO is not an advisory body, it’s a regulatory body.”



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Notes to Editors

1. ICO report

2. Data Protection Act 2018, Schedule 1 paragraph 22

3. Report by ORG