UK Brexiteer Banks's company fined over data breaches

Image    Almost 300,000 emails were sent to the insurance company's customers

Image Almost 300,000 emails were sent to the insurance company's customers

Companies linked to a leading pro-Brexit donor are being fined a total of £135,000 (154,000 euros, $176,000) for data protection breaches during Britain's 2016 referendum, officials said on Tuesday.

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The UK's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has presented its report to Parliament into the invisible processing and misuse of personal data for political purposes-and it's not pulling any punches.

Mr Banks, 52, is a self-made millionaire who has donated big sums to anti-EU political causes including UKIP ahead of the 2016 referendum.

The United Kingdom's data watchdog said on Tuesday it was fining Brexit campaigner Arron Banks's insurance company and the Leave.EU campaign for serious breaches of electronic marketing regulations.

More than a million emails were said to have been sent between February and July 2017 which included the company's banner and a discount offer for Leave.EU supporters.

The ICO says Leave.EU is facing a £15,000 fine after its newsletter was sent to 330,000 Eldon customers.

Banks played down the announcement.

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According to the leaked extract, in one incident in September 2015 a Leave.EU newsletter was sent to more than 319,000 email addresses on Eldon's customer database.

Banks, nicknamed Bankski by mischievous campaigners, has faced questions about his relationship with Russian Federation and funding discrepancies in multiple Brexit campaigns.

It was announced last week that the National Crime Agency is probing his alleged use of offshore companies to finance Leave.EU.

It followed the discovery of evidence that some Eldon customers' personal data had been used by Leave.EU to unlawfully distribute political marketing messages, the ICO said.

Both Denham and her office's report indicated that the United Kingdom was at a cross-roads in terms of the use of data in political campaigning but warned that tighter regulation of tech firms was "quite controversial and the need to balance freedom of expression with the harms of the internet is hard", she told MPs.

"We may never know whether individuals were unknowingly influenced to vote a certain way in either the UK EU referendum or in the U.S. election campaigns", she said.

"The sharing of information has gone both ways" at Banks' businesses, she added, and "the fines could be significantly higher" if further "misdeeds" were uncovered.

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