THE SHIFTING POLITICAL landscape has taken another cybersecurity turn as Labour makes claims that one of the MPs who this week defected from its ranks tried to access confidential voter data before they left.
Labour general secretary Jennie Formby told staff, as well as current and former MPs by letter that the databases of the party had been locked down after an attempt to access data by "individuals no longer titled to do so".
HuffPost reports that two databases, called 'Contact Creator' and 'Organise', have been temporarily shut down. Both are used for campaigning during elections and reaching out to constituents in between times.
Non-ministerial staff have also had their access revoked until safety is assured.
The newly formed Independent Group, which is the focus of the suspicion, was quick to deny the allegations, despite being the most logical culprit, as a war of words flies over both the moral and legal issues surrounding the attempted breach.
The Formby letter points to the European GDPR legislation as a key reason why such action is so troubling: "Much of the data held on our systems tends to reveal individuals' political opinions and is therefore ‘special category' data, benefiting from enhanced protection under the legislation," she explains.
The Independent Group is not registered as a political party, but rather a limited company, meaning it does not have the same obligations to release data about its donors, or indeed where it gets its data.
But one of the breakaway MPs, Chris Leslie, pointed out that it could actually be Labour that has failed its GDPR obligations:
"On our resignation, we obviously stopped using Labour Party facilities including data. Prior to resignation, when you are still a Labour Party member, of course, you can use the data that we've been familiar with all these years.
"But apparently it's the data controller who has the responsibility to restrict access, so they might have shot themselves in the foot by admitting they did not switch off data on receipt of our resignations."
Data is one of the most prized possessions of any political party and The Independent Group will have to create their own supply from scratch. If it turns out that there has been funny business, it could seriously damage their credibility, within a week of their arrival on the political scene. μ
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