There’s been some press coverage today about district councils selling what’s called the ‘edited’ electoral register to various organisations and companies:
As the Independent puts it:
Local councils have sold the personal information of individuals to more than 2,700 private companies – including lobbyists, estate agents and fast food outlets – according to new figures.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information act found at least 307 local councils sold details from the edited electoral register – comprising names and addresses of thousands of voters that have not chosen to opt out– to private firms in transactions worth more than £250,000. Companies that bought the data include the estate agent Foxtons, the lobby group Bell Pottinger and Coast Insurance.
The research, by the campaigning group Big Brother Watch, comes amid growing concern many companies are “abusing” the register for marketing and publicity purposes in moves that have exacerbated junk mail and assist cold-calling. At least 2,742 sales of the edited register were made between 2007 and 2012 at a cost of £265,161.21, the study found.
If you go the Big Brother Watch website (and they have nothing to do with a certain TV programme!) you can find out the detailed information. For example in South East Essex, councils sold the data as follows:
There’s nothing very dramatic here, but should councils be allowed to sell these registers to an insurance company or a credit reference agency?