The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has launched a campaign aimed at raising awareness of data privacy among UK consumers.
The ‘Be Data Aware‘ campaign will offer advice and information to help consumers across the UK understand how organisations may be using their data to target them online.
It will also provide advice on how people can control who is targeting them; this will also include how organisations use consumer data to target them with social media adverts, whether it be to market goods and services or for political purposes.
The campaign follows recommendations from an ICO investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes. While still ongoing, the ICO says it has uncovered the ‘behind the scenes’ processing of personal information, including the use of analysis, data matching and profiling that involves people’s personal information.
Following the Cambridge Analytica scandal, which blew the lid on the use of data harvesting and voter targeting during the 2016 US Elections and Brexit Referendum, the issue of data privacy has permeated the airwaves in both the UK and the USA.
Several investigations into the use of social media users’ data for political purposes are underway, with social media companies coming under intense scrutiny for their role in enabling nefarious data practices.
One of the main recommendations to come out of the ICO’s investigation was for the regulator to continue educating the public on the impact of data and emerging technologies.
The campaign will offer a number of resources to consumers, which includes downloadable factsheets on privacy and advertising settings, information on people’s rights under GDPR (and how to exercise them) and detailed explanations of how online microtargeting works.
Commenting on the launch of the campaign, information commissioner Elizabeth Denham said: “Our goal is to effect change and ensure confidence in our democratic system. And that can only happen if people are fully aware of how organisations are using their data, particularly if it happens behind the scenes.
“New technologies and data analytics provide persuasive tools that allow campaigners to connect with voters and target messages directly at them based on their likes, swipes and posts. But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law.”