Posts in Press Releases

Electoral Commission may have made a mistake but Vote Leave still broke the law

14/09/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Electoral Commission may have made a mistake but Vote Leave still broke the law”

The High Court has ruled that the Electoral Commission (EC) misunderstood the law regarding donations. Vote Leave in light of this ruling now claim they only gave the donation because the EC said it was permissible in an email correspondence, wilfully  ignoring the clear stipulation in the same email that coordination would make any donation unlawful. Coordination is exactly what the EC found Vote Leave and BeLeave guilty of.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said “We’ve said from the very beginning of this whole sorry affair that the Electoral Commission needs more powers and deep reform and we welcome Matthew Elliott’s consensus on this matter.

The key thing to remember here is that this ruling by the High Court does not in any way invalidate the ruling the EC reached, the EC did not at any point advise Vote Leave that they could break Common Plan Expenditure rules, meaning Vote Leave still broke the law. This crucial fact seems to be missing in the reactions to the High Court ruling.

The EC clearly states on their website following their investigation that they found overwhelming evidence of a common plan. In the emails from the EC that Matthew Elliott has published on Brexit Central it is clear that any donation would be considered unlawful if made under a common plan.

The EC’s misleading advice around spending laws indicates we must have comprehensive reform to make our laws clearer and more democratic but this ruling does not change the simple fact that Vote Leave and BeLeave engaged in illegal campaign coordination. As much as Matthew Elliott tries to obfuscate the truth, we cannot ignore that Vote Leave and BeLeave are responsible for breaking the law.

The Electoral Commission is the most important election regulator in this country. We must ensure that it is operating properly and that our laws reflect the realities of modern campaigning. The fact that yet more is coming to light regarding errors made in the Brexit referendum should give decision-makers pause for thought.

Matthew Elliott and other Brexiteers are using this ruling to once again deny responsibility for their own crimes. They have spent the past few months denigrating one of the fundamental institutions of our democracy, the Electoral Commission and are now being purposefully deceptive to cast even more doubt on our democratic process.

While Vote Leave will claim they were given misleading advice and therefore cannot be held accountable, we mustn’t forget that ignorance of the law is not and has never been a get out jail free card.”

NOTES TO EDITORS

https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/journalist/electoral-commission-media-centre/news-releases-donations/vote-leave-fined-and-referred-to-the-police-for-breaking-electoral-law

Fair Vote UK’s proposed Electoral Commission reforms: https://fairvote.uk/home/electoral-reform/

Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook

30/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook”

Fair Vote UK launch class-action suit against Facebook with Bindmans LLP in wake of DCMS committee’s interim report on “fake news.”

In early July the ICO reported that Facebook had violated the Data Protection Act. Today, in the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee’s interim report on disinformation and “fake news” – leaked by Dominic Cummings of Vote Leave – the chair Damian Collins MP made it clear that Facebook had made it incredibly easy for user data to be harvested without their consent. It is clear something must be done.

In an effort to seek remedy for those whose personal and private information was taken without their consent, Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK and victim of these activities, is – with Bindmans LLP – preparing a class-action lawsuit against Facebook.

Tamsin Allen of Bindmans LLP, said ‘We agree with Damian Collins MP that “data crimes are real crimes, with real victims”.  Accordingly, this week, we are taking the first formal steps in proceedings against Facebook for breaches on a vast scale of the agreement between the company and its users, and breaches of UK personal data rules.  Whilst Facebook has now informed those affected, the lack of protection provided by the company over the victim’s data has become woefully apparent during the Committee’s investigation’.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK and one of the Claimants in the Facebook claim said ‘It is now abundantly clear the status quo with regard to how we hold internet giants to account does not work. The solution is urgent reform to properly regulate and oversee companies like Facebook. Because the breaches took place before the GDPR came into effect, the fines are simply not great enough to deter this behaviour. As such, we are hoping as many of the nearly 1.1 million people who had their data used without their consent will join our claim to hit Facebook where it counts – their bottom line.”

Any individual whose data was taken without their consent could be eligible to join the claim. Possible victims can visit Fair Vote UK’s site at https://our.fairvote.uk/page/s/FB-case and check whether their data was taken then submit their details to join. There are an estimated 1.1 million people in the UK who could be eligible.

 

ENDS

Electoral Commission finds Vote Leave broke the law, Fair Vote UK calls for immediate action.

17/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Electoral Commission finds Vote Leave broke the law, Fair Vote UK calls for immediate action.”

In light of the Electoral Commission’s report on Vote Leave, BeLeave and Veterans for Britain, confirming Shahmir Sanni’s whistleblower evidence of overspend and illegal campaign coordination, it is more clear than ever that the EU referendum was won by cheating and law-breaking. We must have a fair vote and Parliament must act now to ensure our future elections are not marred by cheating and corruption.

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK said: “The Electoral Commission has uncovered far more law-breaking than even we had believed occurred. The Government needs to take urgent action to deal with the fact the referendum is now illegitimate. We need to wake up and start fighting for our democracy.

These problems will not solve themselves. Until there are adequate deterrents against cheating, bad actors will continue to take advantage of our democracy and break the law. This is unacceptable. Elections and referenda have serious consequences and cheating in these campaigns must be punished.

When the Electoral Commission suspects wrongdoing in elections, these allegations should be promptly and thoroughly investigated by the police. The cap on fines should be lifted. Currently, fines given by the Electoral Commission are small enough that they are just the cost of doing business. We must build a system that holds people accountable for their actions.

Parliament must act immediately to implement common sense electoral reforms. The Electoral Commission found that Vote Leave, BeLeave, and Veterans for Britain misreported their campaign spending. Campaigns should be reporting their spending online, as MPs do with the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority. In referenda, the designated campaign should no longer be allowed to donate money to other groups. Perhaps most importantly, we should regulate paid political digital advertising in the election period with a Digital Bill of Rights for Democracy.”

We must have laws which reflect our current realities. The Electoral Commission’s report makes clear that our current system is not fit to purpose. With such monumental decisions such as Brexit at stake, we cannot stand by and allow our democratic processes to be denigrated and our votes cheated. Parliament must act and we must have fair votes for all.”

British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook

11/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “British citizens are preparing a damages claim against Facebook”

Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham has today published a scathing report into how British Citizens’ data and privacy has been violated.

 

Kyle Taylor, Director of Fair Vote UK, said “Under new GDPR laws, the ICO could fine Facebook for £479 million. Unfortunately, because they had to follow old data protection laws, they were only able to fine them the maximum of £500,000. This is unacceptable. Facebook must be held accountable for their violations of British citizens’ data. Fair Vote UK is preparing a class action claim against Facebook, which already has 84 claimants. All 1.1 million British citizens impacted by the Cambridge Analytica data breach can join the claim. People can check if they were impacted and join the claim on our website.

 

When it comes down to our democracy we should not be negotiating with private companies. Until now, Facebook has been allowed to make their own rules. It is time for Parliament to fulfil their legislative duties and regulate data barons like Facebook.”

 

With regard to the ICO’s call for a pause of digital political ads: “The ICO has called for an ‘ethical pause’ on digital advertising until regulation is brought in that will robustly protect fairness in our democratic processes. This is exactly what Fair Vote UK has been calling for since whistleblowers revealed damning evidence about how UK democracy was manipulated using voter microtargeting and misuse and abuse of data. It is shocking that even the ICO cannot implement the recommendations it sees fit but instead relies on political will that seems to be sadly lacking in order to restore trust in democratic processes.”

 

And on SCL Group, Cambridge Analytica and AIQ: “Furthermore, criminal proceedings for SCL Group mean those who committed these offenses may now be brought to justice. Similarly, a notice to Aggregate IQ to stop processing British citizens’ data raises further concern that such data may still be held overseas. While this is a start, there is still more to be done to hold these companies to account.

 

The Information Commissioner herself said that citizens have little idea of what is happening behind the scenes about how the average voters’ data is being used and also how personal data may have impacted the outcome of the Brexit referendum in ways that broke electoral law. These issues are of great concern and need to be dealt with urgently – especially in light of recent resignations and cabinet unrest – before we consider having another poll of any sort – whether it is another referendum or a general election.”

According to Vote Leave, Electoral Commission set to rule that they broke electoral law

04/07/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “According to Vote Leave, Electoral Commission set to rule that they broke electoral law”

Electoral Commission is set to say Vote Leave cheated in the Brexit referendum and broke electoral law, according to Vote Leave themselves.

Christopher Wylie said: ‘If sanctions are issued against Vote Leave or their affiliates, this means the law was broken. This means that cheating occurred in the referendum. The law demands our elections are free and fair. Electoral crimes are real crimes. In any other arena, if players are caught cheating, they get disqualified. For something as important as an irrevocable change to Britain’s constitutional law, how can we tolerate a vote tainted with cheating?’

Shahmir Sanni said: ‘If this is true, the evidence that I brought forward in March has been confirmed. Vote Leave used BeLeave to break electoral law. This means criminal offences occurred and it is imperative that we take this seriously. We must ask why cabinet ministers denied anything was wrong and why Number 10 sought to discredit the evidence that was brought forward. We must question why we are putting the law second and party politics first. I’m waiting for the report, but just for clarity, I told you so.’

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said: ‘This looks like an attempt to intimidate the EC before it has reached its final decision.

They say they’ll challenge the findings in court – fine. When the court agrees with the EC will they then admit they broke the law and accept their punishment?

Facts are facts. Whether they like it or not the fact is they cheated. Just because you don’t like the fact doesn’t make it any less true. I don’t like that only eating ice cream and only drinking beer is unhealthy. That doesn’t make it any less true. The fact is, they cheated.

This is an important moment that should lead to change. We believe Parliament should transfer the Electoral Commission’s investigative and prosecutorial powers to the police. ​We believe the Electoral Commission works best as a regulator and policy body. When there are grounds to suspect electoral offences have been committed, it should refer wrongdoing to the police with a recommendation that it is investigated promptly by either specialist fraud officers or specialist electoral offence officers’

Electoral Commission urges Parliament to act

26/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Electoral Commission urges Parliament to act”

Electoral Commission agree that our democracy is under threat, ask for urgent reform

For the last four months The Fair Vote Project have been campaigning for necessary Electoral Commission (EC) reform to protect our democracy after whistleblower evidence came to light suggesting cheating in the Brexit referendum. On Monday the EC, themselves, announced that ‘urgent’ reforms were needed because our democracy “may be under threat” by the very campaigns that fought for Brexit.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said: ‘After the recent revelations about alleged cheating in the Brexit referendum and the Cambridge Analytica scandal, it’s more clear than ever that our electoral system is not fit to purpose.

We applaud yesterday’s announcement by the Electoral Commission – the authority on UK elections – demanding their powers be strengthened. Civil society and our election watchdog not only agree that reform is needed but also on what reform should be. Now, Parliament must respond and implement these reforms to protect our democracy. Until these reforms are instituted, our democratic systems will remain vulnerable to cheating. We cannot in good conscience have another election without ensuring our polls are free and fair.”

Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore appear before the DCMS committee

13/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Arron Banks and Andy Wigmore appear before the DCMS committee”

The Fair Vote Project was set up in response to evidence brought forward by pro-Brexit whistleblowers relating to the misuse of data and alleged overspending in the recent Brexit referendum. The Fair Vote Project does not have a position on Brexit. It is a pro-democracy group motivated by ensuring that votes are fair and in order to be sure of this, in light of recent allegations, it is calling for immediate electoral commission reform.

The Fair Vote Project and its Director, Kyle Taylor, are defendants in a Mississippi, USA lawsuit against Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins, companies registered in the UK with clear and self-declared links to Mississippi, USA. Based on testimony given by Brittany Kaiser and interview recordings given by Andy Wigmore, evidence suggests that British citizens’ data is being stored and used for political and commercial purposes at a state university.

The claim of this suit does not mean that Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins did necessarily transfer UK data to Mississippi to use for political gain, it is simply an attempt to find out if they did.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “The Fair Vote Project has said from the beginning that some things are bigger than Brexit, like preserving our democratic principles.

We sought the claim in Mississippi based on verbal accounts given by Kaiser and Wigmore. If the preservation order wasn’t being fought by Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins then the matter could have been cleared up already. We have not said that what Kaiser and Wigmore stated happened for certain, we are simply trying to find out. If there was no wrongdoing why fight the case so vehemently?

Our motivation is clear – in the past few months, troubling evidence has been brought forward that suggests our democracy is not functioning freely and fairly. The Fair Vote Project is seeking to strengthen our democratic processes, hold those who may have cheated in our elections to account and ultimately make sure UK democracy is fit for the digital age.”

Shocking Revelations in Mississippi

05/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Shocking Revelations in Mississippi”

Mississippi court case reveals Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins used insurance data of millions of UK citizens to conduct data modeling learned from Cambridge Analytica

The Fair Vote Project’s suit against Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins in Mississippi, USA is set to enter a second day following extended testimony in what turned out to be a day full of revelations.

The case was separated into two hearings – the first to determine jurisdiction and the second to hear the motion to preserve data. Yesterday’s jurisdictional hearing went on for a grueling five hours of intense testimony, much longer than anticipated. One of the main witnesses called, Vanessa Sena, Project Manager for the Mississippi project at Eldon Insurance, was questioned for hours about the relationship Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins had, has, and will have with the University of Mississippi.

The defendants attempted to suggest they did not have a significant enough relationship with the University to be under their jurisdiction for this legal matter despite having a signed lease agreement for thousands of square feet of office space in the University’s “Insight Park,” years of well-documented meetings and the release of 2017 audio interviews with Andy Wigmore, a once director of Eldon Insurance, boasting about already conducting Cambridge Analytica-style data experiments in Mississippi with British Eldon Insurance data.

Eldon Insurance Project Manager Victoria Sena’s main defense against these evidenced allegations was to say that Andy Wigmore is a “PR guy” who was attempting to hype the abilities of the Eldon and Big Data Dolphins. This claim was contradicted when she then suggested that Big Data Dolphins was undertaking data modelling learned from meetings with Cambridge Analytica in the UK, not Mississippi, exactly like Wigmore described in the tapes. If true, millions of UK citizens could be currently having information about their lifestyle, their credit check and other information taken for insurance purposes used in sophisticated data modelling projects planned for political gains.

The Fair Vote Project immediately made the ICO and DCMS Select Committee aware of this claim in its ongoing effort to protect British citizens’ and residents’ data from misuse.

Kyle Taylor, lead plaintiff and Director of the The Fair Vote Project, said “it was a surprising first day of testimony. To hear Eldon and Big Data Dolphin’s primary defense be that Andy Wigmore was simply a PR guy is not enough against the myriad evidence and is a desperate attempt to grasp at straws. Wigmore was a listed director until he resigned less than two weeks after Brittany Kaiser gave testimony that these companies were involved in offshoring UK citizens’ data to Mississippi.

Perhaps the most shocking revelation was that these companies may be currently misusing personal data in the UK. People should have the right to know how their data is being used and to refuse if it’s not something they want to be a part of. I’m sure many people in the UK would not be comfortable with their insurance data being used to build Cambridge Analytica-style personality models.

I look forward to giving my own testimony as we work to hold these companies to account and defend the rights of citizens in controlling their own personal data and preserve the sanctity of our democratic processes.”

BREAKING: ICO show support for The Fair Vote Project data protection case and DCMS select committee publishes tapes vital to the claim

05/06/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “BREAKING: ICO show support for The Fair Vote Project data protection case and DCMS select committee publishes tapes vital to the claim”

Brittany Kaiser, former Cambridge Analytica employee, said while giving testimony to the DCMS select committee that Cambridge Analytica, Eldon Insurance and Big Data Dolphins were storing and using British citizen’s data at a facility in Mississippi at Ole Miss University.

 

In response to this revelation, The Fair Vote Project immediately sought legal counsel in Mississippi and pursued a preservation order over this data so that the companies in question could not tamper with it.

 

The Fair Vote Project was recently granted a temporary injunction and prepares tomorrow to testify in Mississippi in the hope of being granted a permanent injunction. If this injunction is obtained, it could set a precedent and open the door to other cases where individuals can seek to repatriate illegally held data.

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office has said it strongly supports The Fair Vote Project in its pursuit of this data and that the ICO itself would like to investigate the data in question:

 

“Preservation and access to this data is of significant importance to the ICO’s current investigation. For this reason, and in light of potential uncertainty as to whether the data will remain preserved beyond the hearing on 5 June 2018, the ICO lends its support to Fair Vote Project’s claim for permanent injunctive relief.”

 

Dr. Emma Briant, the academic who has brought forward audio recordings of Andy Wigmore (Director of Communications for Leave.EU) suggesting UK citizens’ data was illegally stored in Mississippi, will be giving evidence tomorrow as well. In advance of tomorrow’s session, Damian Collins and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee have published Dr. Briant’s primary evidence for all to see as a result only of The Fair Vote Project’s efforts in Mississippi.

 

Kyle Taylor, Director of the The Fair Vote Project, said “I’m glad to be in Mississippi to testify in this landmark case which could set a new precedent in data protection law. We welcome the support from the ICO and hope to be able to aid them in their investigation into use of personal data and analytics by political campaigns which is unprecedented in its scale. With the ICO’s support and the new evidence released for our case by the DCMS Committee, it is more important than ever that a permanent injunction is obtained and Eldon Insurance is properly and thoroughly investigated.”

 

The Fair Vote Project was set up to tackle the issue of data misuse, voter manipulation and lack of transparency in elections head-on. We are committed to ensuring the institutions that protect our democratic processes are fit for purpose in a digital age.

 

The Fair Vote Project took the decision to publish the whistleblower evidence for everyone to see. The evidence we have so far can be seen on our website, because the public deserve to know the truth about what’s happening in our democracy.

 

See Dr. Briant’s audio recordings here

Mark Zuckerberg Disappoints

23/05/2018 Posted by News, Press Releases 0 thoughts on “Mark Zuckerberg Disappoints”

Mark Zuckerberg evades answering questions at yesterday’s disappointing hearing

Mark Zuckerberg appeared before the European Parliament yesterday to answer questions regarding the misuse of Facebook data by companies who have sought to influence elections around the world. His questioning came the day we heard that anti-abortion apps, Save the 8th and LoveBoth, being used to promote their cause in the Irish referendum on the 8th Amendment are collecting data and passing it on to Conservative groups in the USA, pro-Brexit groups and the Conservative party in UK.

It is unlikely that users are aware of the manner in which their data is being collected and who it is being given to. Trackers contained inside the apps have Facebook analytics which Facebook says can produce deep demographic analysis.

Kyle Taylor, Director of The Fair Vote Project, said “Zuckerberg was not held accountable at all, he was permitted to respond to questions in one go with no follow up questioning from MEPs’. Apparently this is what it looks like to be held to account for crimes against democracy. It seems totally without merit to ask him one hundred questions if he can just pick and choose the ones he wants to answer and avoid the more incriminating questions.

This painfully slow process illustrates just how weak our democratic institutions are at protecting and preserving our democracy and how big money is running roughshod over citizens’ right to self-determination – and it is quite literally happening again as we speak in Ireland and absolutely nothing has been done about it.

Zuckerberg claims to be trying to fix the problems that have recently come to light about misuse of Facebook data but suspicious apps like Save the 8th and LoveBoth continue to use Facebook products to abuse the current system.

When will our leaders around the world stand up to these self-styled data barons and give us back our democracy?”

Sign our petition for a Digital Bill of Rights to demand better protections for individuals online.