Charlie Whelan’s recent interview with Left Foot Forward confirmed what’s been widely reported elsewhere, namely that Unite are running a phone canvassing operation where they are asking their members how they are intending to vote:
We’ve talked to tens of thousands, almost hundreds of thousands of people in the last couple of years and there are a proportion of Unite members who are Tories. But the current telephone canvassing we’ve been doing of Unite members shows that it’s only 8.5%. I expected it to be higher than that.
However, if you are asking people their voting intentions and then recording that information, there are special data protection rules which apply in order to protect such sensitive personal data. Yet on checking Unite’s data protection registration with the Information Commissioner, it looks as if Unite has not met these legal obligations.
In particular, it has failed to include storing such information in the list lodged with the Information Commissioner that records the data it is legally allowed to gather and use.
Time for a letter to the Information Commissioner I think…
Note: opinion polling, where you don’t store the voting intention against someone’s name, is covered by different rules than those for canvassing, where you do record the name of the person who is going to vote for a particular party. Although on different occasions Charlie Whelan and Unite have also talked of ‘polling’ it seems clear from their own descriptions that at least some of the calls are canvassing.