CAMPAIGNERS have launched a legal challenge to the Tories, Labour and the LibDems, demanding that they stop processing their data and erase any which has been profiled about them.

Directors, staff and members of the Open Rights Group (ORG) said they are concerned that the parties may have broken data protection laws through their profiling activities.

Now, they have written pre-action letters to the three parties setting out their worries about the lawfulness of the processing which has been undertaken on their personal data, and are seeking clarity on their use.

ORG said the parties had created individualised scores such as their age, if they supported Brexit and their social status, classing them as “metropolitan elite” or “soft Tory”.

They said this often – but not exclusively – relied upon third-party data brokers such as credit reference agency Experian.

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The parties have also been accused of failing to be transparent about who they have shared this data with, including political campaigning consultancies. ORG said the legal action was apolitical and non-partisan, although the facts differed in the case of each party.

It pointed out that the Labour Party provided scores based on individuals’ personal data that was unintelligible and failed to respond to their initial queries – known as subject access requests (SARs) – within the statutory time limit.

The Tories had been using personal names and addresses to guess the age of one claimant, without prior consent or a clear explanation of their legal justification.

It added that the Liberal Democrats had failed to provide the sources of third-party data used to profile those individuals who had sent SARs.

ORG said at least two of the parties appeared to have incorporated email addresses from local election registers and said the claimants believed they were not entitled to this data, obtained when people use online voter registration tools.

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It was unclear how many authorities had given personal emails of residents to political parties.

Pascal Crowe, ORG’s data and democracy project officer, Open Rights Group said: “The abuse of personal data is now a systemic issue in our politics.

“No one comes out of this well.

“We are concerned about the lawfulness of these activities and have put these concerns to the parties.

“Further, we are concerned what this means for democracy. Faith in democratic outcomes rests on a shared democratic process and profiling voters to create micro-targeted audiences undermines that.

“Its use is even more baffling given that we often don’t recognise our profiles. They are not even profiling accurately. But political parties are seemingly unquestioning of the authority of numbers.

“These techniques should not be used to determine political activity and engagement.

“They are dishonest, inaccurate, and anti-democratic.”

The ORG’s legal move came days after the group launched an online tool designed to simplify the process for individuals to find out what data were held on them by political parties.

All people need is a scanned form of photographic ID to be sent with the completed form, which uses their right of subject access and simplifies an otherwise cumbersome bureaucratic process.

After completing the form, multiple SARs are sent out to political parties, to which they must, by law, respond.

Ravi Naik, a partner in ITN Solicitors, which is representing the ORG claimants, said political parties had to be accountable for their use of data.

“Our clients requested their information from the parties and were presented with unclear and incomplete responses,” he said.

“We have therefore written to the parties, outlining our clients' concerns about the use of their data. This includes a challenge to the legality of the wider processing activities.

“Parties seem to consider themselves as having a free pass to do as they want with personal data as they consider this in the democratic interest.

“However, the data protection regime exists to limit data use to prevent abuses. The democratic interest is best served by all parties respecting the law.”