AP NEWS

UK pro-Brexit campaign fined for breaching data laws

February 1, 2019
Arron Banks attends a Democratic Unionist dinner event in Ballymena, Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, Thursday Jan. 31, 2019. Britain's Information Commissioner's Office has fined one of the pro-Brexit campaigns in the country's European Union membership referendum for breaking data laws, by sending political marketing messages to customers of an insurance firm owned by the group's founder, Arron Banks. (Rebecca Black/PA via AP)

LONDON (AP) — Britain’s information watchdog on Friday fined one of the pro-Brexit campaigns in the country’s European Union membership referendum for breaking data laws.

The Information Commissioner’s Office found that Leave.EU sent political marketing messages to customers of an insurance firm owned by the group’s founder, Arron Banks. Insurance marketing materials were also sent to Leave.EU subscribers without sufficient consent.

Leave.EU and Eldon Insurance were fined a total of 120,000 pounds ($157,000).

“It is deeply concerning that sensitive personal data gathered for political purposes was later used for insurance purposes and vice versa. It should never have happened,” said Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham.

Leave.EU spokesman Andy Wigmore said the group would appeal, calling the fine “a politically motivated attack against our involvement in Brexit.”

Ever since Britain voted by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent in 2016 to leave the 28-nation EU, opponents of Brexit have raised questions about the source of funding for the “leave” campaign, possible Russian influence on the vote and the role of social-media advertising using data harvested from millions of Facebook users by the firm Cambridge Analytica.

Several investigations are underway into the funding and conduct of the “leave” campaign.