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Case Update

Sunak’s claims that Tory data grab is lawful don’t add up

31st January 2024

Dawn Butler challenged Rishi Sunak over his pary’s tool to capture voter data at Prime Minister’s Questions. And now the Tories are on shaky ground.

UK Parliament TV

Last month, the Tories launched an online tool which they claim allows people to find out how recent changes to national insurance will affect their finances. But below the surface, it’s just a simple data-harvesting exercise.

There’s nothing wrong with political parties gathering information about voters, but this tool breaks laws that protect your data.

When the Labour MP Dawn Butler challenged Rishi Sunak at the despatch box, she cited the Nolan principle of integrity and asked, “Can the Prime Minister assure the House that no laws have been broken by his party?”

Rishi Sunak kept his response short and smug: “Of course our party follows all laws”.

So let’s take a look at the evidence. The Tories’ online tool flouts the law by leaving cookies without asking permission. The privacy notice fails to explain how the Tories plan to use the data it collects through the site. And this whole approach falls foul of the guidance set by the Information Commissioner’s Office. 

We’re already challenging the Tories in court over this flagrant breach of our data rights. But this goes far beyond the Conservatives – no political party is above the law.

As more and more of our lives move online, personal data has become the new political battleground, with micro-targeted ads allowing parties to wage divisive campaigns out of public view. So it’s more important than ever that politicians take their legal obligations seriously, and get to know us with honesty and respect.

  • As the General Election looms, anything you can give to support our work will help us to protect our data rights as voters.

This article is part of our General Election: Help us stop political parties misusing your data case

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, being open, transparent and accountable about the use by political parties of your data is essential for a healthy democracy. But early indications show some political parties are riding roughshod over crucial data rights.

See more about this case