WE live in an age where electioneering on social media platforms may be rife, but digital rights campaigners have released an online tool to help people discover the extent to which political parties have profiled them during this General Election campaign.

Open Rights Group (ORG) said it aimed to help voters turn the tables on the parties by enabling them to see what personal data they hold on them.

Using General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rights, it has developed a means of allowing anyone to easily mail every political party that has a sitting elected representative in a national or regional parliament or assembly.

This includes the House of Commons, Scottish Parliament, Welsh Assembly and Northern Irish Assembly.

The tool utilises people’s right of subject access, which is usually a cumbersome bureaucratic process that involves submitting a subject access request (SAR) and making sure that the terminology used is word-perfect.

However, using the new tool, all a voter needs is a form of photographic ID that shows their identity and current voting address, such as a driving licence.

Individuals’ right of access to obtain information from data controllers is enshrined under Article 15 of the GDPR. Under it, people can ask whether or not their personal data is being processed and, where that is the case, seek access to it and other information.

This includes the purpose of the data processing, the categories of data, to whom it will be disclosed – especially recipients in third countries or international organisations – and for how long it will be stored.

It also seeks to discover the existence of automated decision-making, including profiling and information about the logic involved, as well as the significance and the envisaged consequences of such processing for the data subject.

Cambridge Analytica and Facebook have been the focus for most of the blame over the use of commercial data, but ORG said political parties – in their role as data controllers – were engaging in similar practices by trading and grading our personal data.

The production line begins with them buying electoral register data sets and mixing them with other data sets and information formats, which results in the ubiquitous Facebook adverts.

ORG said its goal was for as many people as possible to submit SARs to research the type of information parties are holding about them.

It also wants the campaign to act as a deterrent, hoping that receiving a large number of SARs will put parties off the practice.

ORG said that any documents which people attached to prove their identity and address would be sent to all the political parties on the list and immediately deleted by themselves and the co-developer of the tool, MoreOnion, once the request was sent.

They said political parties should also delete people’s identity documents from their systems once they have complied with the individual’s data request.

However, if people want to stay in touch with ORG on this campaign and others, their name, email address and postcode will be held by the group for that purpose, but will be deleted on request.

ORG’s data and democracy project officer, Pascal Crowe, said: “In recent years our national politics has become increasingly focused on returning power to the people from politicians.

“This tool allows individuals to do just that in an effective, simple, non-partisan manner.”

Crowe added: “During our own requests to political parties, we have found that the parties have been buying up commercial data sets and using those to profile the political opinions of the electorate.

“This includes guessing where we stand on Brexit, taxation, housing, austerity; whether we are a pragmatic liberal, or our likelihood of swinging from one party to another.”

However, Crowe warned: “This is also based on demographic data that is deeply inaccurate.

“These inaccuracies may lead to whole sections of the population being excluded from democratic engagement by the political parties.

“The use of data in politics creates a severe power imbalance between the public and those who govern them.

He added: “Retrieving the data held on us goes some way to addressing that.”

The online tool can be accessed and filled out by visiting the following link: www.bit.ly/383aiaS.