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Crowdfunder

General Election: Help us stop political parties misusing your data

We’re all working on the assumption that Rishi Sunak will find the courage to call a General Election sometime this year. Political parties are keener than ever to speak directly to you – but they can’t get into your inbox or social media feed unless they can capture your personal data. With trust in political processes at an all-time low, political parties being open, transparent and accountable about how they use your data is essential for a healthy democracy. But early indications show some political parties are riding roughshod over crucial data rights.

When political parties take your data, they start to build a psychological profile and put you into segments which try to capture your values, opinions and attitudes. They then use these segments – like “Worcester woman” or “Workington man” – to make campaigning messages that appeal to these broad stereotypes. Rather than dealing with the big strategic political issues of our time, they tap into our insecurities, using micro-targeted digital ads to campaign on fear rather than hope.

This approach distorts democracy. It’s the same playbook that allowed toxic, micro-targeted ads to go under the radar during the Brexit referendum.

This kind of campaigning undermines the idea that politics serves us all as a collective good. As we get closer to the General Election, we need to know how data is being used to shape our shared future. We need to be in control of the ways we’re profiled and targeted – and asked if we even want to be profiled and targeted at all. That’s why we are launching a broad campaign to protect voters’ data rights.

Our first challenge takes on an online tool launched by the Tories which claims to calculate the effect on an individual of recent changes to national insurance contributions. But it is a simple data-harvesting exercise.

There’s nothing wrong with parties collecting information about voters, but this “calculator” breaches data protection law. Our Executive Director, Jo Maugham, has taken the first formal step in legal proceedings against this flagrant breach.

Between now and the election we will be keeping an eye on how political parties are using your data – we have further actions already planned. We’ll be defending your data rights both through litigation and through reporting on bad practice. Anything you can give to support our work will help us shine a light on these shady campaigning schemes and put us all back in control of our democracy.

Details

All funds raised will be used to support our work during the general election to protect and improve our democracy by protecting data rights, less 10% as a contribution to the general running costs of Good Law Project. Any surplus will go to develop and support further work we do to fight for a fairer future for all.

Crowdfunder Updates

  • 24/01/2024

    Thank you!

    Thank you to everyone who’s donated to our campaign so far! We’re so grateful to have reached our initial target already – this gives us an amazing platform to take on shady campaigning schemes in the run-up to the election. In addition to the legal challenge we have already told you about, we’re proactively scoping other work to make sure we’re well placed to stand up for our democratic and data rights, so we’ve now raised our fundraising target to £50,000.