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I’ll seek answers over selling of voter details for cash, says councillor
ONE of Bournemouth’s Labour opposition councillors says there is “a moral case to answer” in the wake of revelations last week that councils had sold voter details to private companies.
The story made national headlines after privacy pressure group Big Brother Watch revealed the figures, showing that voters’ names and addresses were sold to direct marketing firms, pizza delivery shops and estate agents.
As reported in the Daily Echo, Bournemouth Borough Council sold details to 23 buyers, including marketing firms and insurance companies, bagging £2,070 in the process – but the council says the cost of producing the register outweighs the revenue.
Now Labour councillor Beryl Baxter is set to raise the issue at next week’s full council meeting.
She said: “In an era of cuts organisations look at all ways to raise money, but there is no excuse for the council to use the personal data of residents to raise additional money.
“It is yet to be determined whether or not any breach of data protection law has been breached, but there is a moral case to answer.
“Councils are not just any organisation, but residents are under a statutory obligation to provide their data and as such have a right to expect that data to be treated confidentially.
“It is a question of trust and I intend to seek answers.”
Cllr John Beesley, leader of the council, said: “I want to stress that we do not want to provide this information at all, but are required by the law to do so.”
He said the council had campaigned for an end to the sale of the Edited Register, which excludes names of those who have opted-out.
“In response we have in the past tried to carry forward any electors’ request to ‘opt out’ of the Edited Register in a bid to protect their details. However, due to a legal challenge, Bournemouth Borough Council has been told to stop this practice.
“This year we’ll be communicating well in advance to residents to ensure they fully understand that they will be required to tick the Edited Register box if they do not want their details sold to any person,” said Cllr Beesley.
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