The Citizens and The Eyeballs need your help!
Ever since the Cambridge Analytica scandal, we’ve come to understand how political parties and campaigns collect vast quantities of personal data on us to use in political campaigning. But we don’t know what data they have, where they got it from or what they do with it.
We want to change that with an innovative new data investigation that brings ordinary citizens together to use the law to uncover what data political parties have on us, what they’re doing with it and whether they are complying with the law.
Who we are
We are two non-profit organisations that emerged from the Cambridge Analytica scandal - The Citizens and The Eyeballs. The Citizens was co-founded by journalist Carole Cadwalladr who broke the scandal in 2018 in the Observer. And Swiss data campaigner, Paul-Olivier Dehaye, set up The Eyeballs. His early investigations into Cambridge Analytica were foundational to much of the journalism that came later.
We’re joining forces to investigate a data breach reported by the UK Labour party. We hope this will be the beginning of a wider investigation into the use of data in politics.
On November 4, 2021, the UK Labour Party published a statement revealing that “a third party that handles data on [its] behalf has been subject to a cyber incident.”
It notified people who might have been affected. But there’s a whole lot of information that we don’t know and apparently have no way of finding out.
We don’t know:
- How many of its 430,000 members were affected.
- How “supporters” of the party as well as members were affected.
- What data Labour had on who and what has been leaked.
- Who this “third party” is. And how - or why - they had access to our data.
What we can do
As individuals, we have a legal right under the 2018 Data Protection Act to know when our personal data has been compromised. But as individuals we only get a partial glimpse. However, if we can organise people to individually find out what happened to their individual data and then bring them together, collectively we can find out much more.
So that’s the plan. If enough people ask the Labour Party enough questions - through a Subject Access Request or SAR which is our legal right - we may be able to uncover what actually happened.
Together with our partner, The Eyeballs, we have developed an automated SAR generator to make it easy for you to find out.
What we know
Political parties may legitimately hold personal data on millions of people. In the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal which revealed how profiling and micro-targeting is used in digital campaigning to sway and even manipulate voters the ICO instigated a data audit of UK political parties.
In 2018, the ICO called for an “ethical pause” on the use of microtargeting ad tools warning there’s a risk of “trust in democracy being undermined by a lack of transparency around the data-fuelled targeting techniques being applied to voters”.
In 2020, they published a list of specific actions to improve data protection transparency and practice for: the Conservative Party; the Labour Party; the Liberal Democrats; the Scottish National Party (SNP); the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP); Plaid Cymru; and United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP).
Did the political parties make these changes? That’s what we need to find out.
Why this matters
The UK data regime is undergoing a huge shift. The government is rewriting our digital laws. These reforms threaten to make SARs more difficult to file, to introduce a fee for even filing them and threaten the independence of the ICO as a watchdog.
Right now, we have some rights to find out how political parties use our data to target us. That right is under threat and that’s why this investigation is so important. But we can only do it with your help.
Please take a moment to fill out this form. Even if you’ve never been a member of the Labour party, it may have had data on you. And please share it with your friends. Thank you!