LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said on Wednesday it had opened an investigation into the use for political purposes of personal data found online, to ensure laws were not broken and voters had control of their own information.
The ICO, which is responsible for regulating how companies use such information, said it would examine practices deployed during campaigning for last year's EU referendum and potentially other campaigns.
Data analytics have been increasingly used by campaigners and political parties to target advertising to voters on social media platforms like Facebook.
"This is a complex and rapidly evolving area of activity and the level of awareness among the public about how data analytics works, and how their personal data is collected, shared and used through such tools, is low," Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said.
She said it was clear that data analytical tools had a significant potential impact on individuals' privacy.
"It is important that there is greater and genuine transparency about the use of such techniques to ensure that people have control over their own data and the law is upheld," she said.
(Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by John Stonestreet and Michael Holden)