The Information Commissioner’s Office investigation into the use of data analytics for political purposes – which, by its own admission, is the largest inquiry it has ever undertaken – has already cost the regulator over £1.4m and counting, new figures show.
The costs have been revealed in a Freedom of Information request but do not include external lawyers and forensic teams which are likely to push the bill even higher.
The ICO launched the investigation last year, but it was ramped up after the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica data scandal broke.
In June, Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said over 40 of the ICO’s own investigators were working full time on the inquiry plus 20 external legal and forensic IT recovery experts.
At the time, she said: “We are looking at over 30 separate organisations and the actions of around a dozen key individuals. We are investigating social media platforms, data brokers, analytics firms, political parties and campaign groups and academic institutions. We are looking at both regulatory and criminal breaches.”
Earlier this month, it fined Emma’s Diary £140,000 – a penalty it had flagged up in July, for handing over illegally gathered personal information belonging to more than a million people to Experian.
Meanwhile the ICO has also said it plans to fine Facebook the maximum £500,000 for its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. However, the fines do not go to the ICO; they go to the Treasury.
The next phase of the ICO’s work is expected to be concluded by the end of October 2018.
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