When news happens, text CIT and your photos and videos to 80360. Or contact us by email or phone.
East Lancashire councils sell voters' personal details
COUNCILS across East Lancs have been cashing in by selling voters’ personal details to private companies and members of the public.
Four councils revealed how much they had made from selling personal information from the edited electoral register, after privacy campaign group Big Brother Watch made Freedom of Information Act requests to local authorities across the country.
Blackburn with Darwen made £812.50 from selling the information to eight individuals and private companies including Data Trans Ltd and Blackburn College.
In Burnley, members of the general public bought information for a total cost of £683, and electoral roll data was also sold to unspecified individuals in Hyndburn for £398.50.
Pendle made the most money out of the four councils, but still generated considerably little from the edited electoral roll, earning £993.
Blackburn councillor Mike Lee said: “For that amount of money, I don’t think it’s worth exposing residents to a barrage of marketing information that they haven’t requested.
“I know we are trying to maximise incomes, but £800 isn’t really going to make much difference overall.”
Coun Lee also said residents should be made more aware that their data could be sold on. He said: “When they send round the registration updates there should be something on there that gives people the option to opt out at stage.”
Nick Pickles, director of Big Brother Watch said: “Registering to vote is a basic part of our democracy and should not be a back door for the names and addresses of Lancashire residents to be sold to anyone and everyone.
“Many people don’t realise that the edited register can be bought by everyone from pizza shops to estate agents.
“Local councils could do much more to educate people about this, and their right to permanently opt-out, rather than allowing people to unwittingly think that they are only registering to vote.”
A spokeswoman for Pendle Council said all councils had a duty to sell edited electoral register information to anyone who requested it. She said fees were set by central government.
Gillian Turpin, elections and registration manager at Pendle Council, said: “When residents register to vote they can opt out of the edited register which means their details will not be included.
“We highlight the option for residents to opt out when they register to vote.”
Comments are closed on this article.