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Case update 31 January 2024

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

UK Parliament TV

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

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”.

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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 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.
  • Correction: a previous version of this article said that we were challenging the Tories in court. Our proceedings have not yet reached court, and the wording has been amended.