, 16 tweets, 6 min read Read on Twitter
@SkyNewsBreak Today's decision by the ICO is very disappointing. Ever since the conspiracy theories about Vote Leave's use of data first emerged, we have been in correspondence with the ICO. Over the course of nearly 50 letters we have successfully rebutted all the various myths being peddled.
@SkyNewsBreak Last autumn, the ICO wrote to us about the 196,154 text messages VL sent during the campaign. 19 people made complaints and the ICO had sat on them for over two years. They have given us no explanation about why they took so long to approach us about these complaints.
@SkyNewsBreak Note that the ICO's fine is for our inability to prove we had permission from people to send these text messages. It is not, as many are claiming, because we did not have permission.
@SkyNewsBreak The 26 spam reports submitted by 19 individuals pale in contrast to the number of spam reports made by recipients of text messages from other organisations which the ICO have investigated and fined, such as:
@SkyNewsBreak - Carfmance 247 Ltd: 65,000 texts resulting in nearly 1,000 spam reports (a rate of 1.54%)
- STS Ltd: 27,000 / 268 / 0.99%
- Help Direct UK: 187,960 / 6,758 / 3.60%
- Hamilton Digital Solutions: 156,250 / 595 / 0.38%

In contrast:
- Vote Leave: 194,154 / 26 / 0.01%
@SkyNewsBreak This extremely low complaint rate demonstrates that VL had those people's consent to send them text messages, as our privacy policy made clear
@SkyNewsBreak As this recent poll from the New York Times shows, as a political campaign, had we been sending unsolicited text messages, you would expect the complaint rate to be enormously higher than for unsolicited texts from companies.
@SkyNewsBreak We can see from the spreadsheet that the ICO sent us that the majority of the complaints were made after 23rd June. In view of the highly politicised atmosphere after the referendum, it is not unreasonable to conclude that the complainants were annoyed by the referendum result.
@SkyNewsBreak We were unable to prove the 19 complainants had consented because we deleted their data after the referendum, in line with VL's privacy policy and ICO best practice guidelines which say that data should be deleted once it is no longer serving the purpose for which is collected
@SkyNewsBreak Both during and after the referendum VL complied with both the letter and spirit of the law. The £40,000 fine for 19 complaints they were aware of in 2016 speaks volumes about the ICO's desire to find against us after we had rebutted all of their other theories
@SkyNewsBreak It's worth adding that Vote Leave was quite clear in what data was to be held, and for how long. And we were particularly mindful of balancing our obligations under electoral law with the inherently sensitive nature of referendum data.
@SkyNewsBreak The ICO, despite having received these complaints in 2016, and in full knowledge of VL's policies, decided to wait 26 months to take action.
@SkyNewsBreak To successfully demonstrate to the ICO that the 19 complainants had given us their consent to send them text messages, we would have had to be in possession of data which we no longer had the right to hold.
@SkyNewsBreak Retention of data indefinitely is, we can all understand, a bad thing. So I look forward to finding out how the ICO plans to square this new open-ended approach with our data laws.
@SkyNewsBreak VL's privacy policy stated explicitly that "the campaign may be required to retain data for the purposes of... reporting or other legal compliance, for a period of no more than 24 months from the date of the referendum."
@SkyNewsBreak It is therefore extremely disappointing that the ICO only alerted us to these complaints 26 months after the referendum
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