Ukip is to face a tribunal over its use of analytics during the EU referendum after refusing to cooperate with an investigation by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
The ICO announced a formal investigation into how political parties use data analytics to target voters in response to concern about how social media was used during the referendum.
“We are concerned about invisible processing – the ‘behind the scenes’ algorithms, analysis, data matching, profiling that involves people’s personal information. When the purpose for using these techniques is related to the democratic process, the case for a high standard of transparency is very strong,” said Elizabeth Denham, the information commissioner, in an update on the ICO’s website.
Denham said more than 30 organisations, including AggregateIQ, a little-known Canadian firm that received millions of pounds from the leave campaign, were under scrutiny. While some were co-operating, she said, “others are making it difficult”.
She said that the ICO had issued four information notices, formally ordering organisations to disclose information, “including one to Ukip, who have now appealed our notice to the information rights tribunal”.
Separately the Electoral commission is investigating whether Vote Leave, the lead campaign for the leave vote in the referendum, broke spending laws by coordinating spending with other campaign groups.
A Ukip spokesman said the party was prepared to cooperate with the ICO, and was only appealing against a threat of criminal sanctions. “We’re perfectly happy to deal with them, but not under the threat,” he said.