The recently-established Electoral Commission has criticised government plans that would allow companies to buy the...
The recently-established Electoral Commission has criticised government plans that would allow companies to buy the electoral roll for junk-mail campaigns and credit checking, reported the Sunday Express (Financial, p2). It has called on ministers to retain the ban, introduced last year [in the wake of a high court case] on selling electoral registers for commercial use.
The DTLR last month announcedproposals to allow credit-reference agencies to buy the electoral roll. The department also proposed the creation of second, edited registers which would be sold for commercial purposes such as direct mail shots. People would be able to opt out from these.
However, the Electoral Commission says: 'The commercial exploitation of information obtained compulsorily for electoral purposes is wrong in principle and likely to be seen by many as a disincentive to register'.
The commission opposes the sale even of edited versions, partly because of the extra work for electoral registration officers. In any event, says the commission, people should be able to 'opt-in' rather than 'opt-out', so allowing them actively to choose to have their details provided for sale.