An update on the Conservative Party telephone call centre in Neath, Wales which Channel 4 ran an expose about earlier this year. The police investigation is still continuing, but the Information Commissioner’s investigation has now concluded:
An undercover Channel 4 News investigation raised concerns about the campaign involving calls made by Blue Telecoms, a firm in Neath, South Wales, on behalf of the Conservative Party.
These concerns prompted an ICO [Information Commissionier’s Office] investigation into the campaign’s compliance with data protection and electronic marketing law.
We’ve found that two small sections of the written scripts used by those making the calls crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing. We’ve warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time.
The issue is that the law governing marketing calls is stricter than the law governing market research calls. What the Conservatives did was follow the laws on market research but then used call scripts when went further than this and included direct marketing:
As part of our investigation, we studied scripts and call recordings and were satisfied that, in general, the questions reflected a valid market research campaign.
But we did have concerns about two sections which we believe fell outside the bounds of market research. These paragraphs referenced both Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn in relation to policy choices.
We’ve stopped short of formal regulatory action because the overall campaign was genuine market research. The two sections we had concerns about were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action when considered along with the campaign as a whole. In addition, the results of the survey were not saved against any individual so they could not be targeted for future marketing.
But we have been clear about what we expect in the future.
We’ve warned the party that its campaigns must be rigorously checked for questions that fall outside the bounds of market research.
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