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InfoLawUpdate - Political groups warned to play by the marketing rules

Burnetts' information law solicitor Natalie Ruane discusses how political groups were warned to play by the marketing rules in the run up to the European elections.

In preparation for the European elections taking place on 22nd May the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) wrote to many of the political parties in the UK warning them to follow data protection and electronic marketing rules.

The political parties need to be careful about what they can and cannot do around election time. It is ok for parties to carry out genuine market research but if they combine carrying out research with the intention of also canvassing support for their political party they will find themselves in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.

The ICO has published guidance to political parties explaining what you can and cannot do. The guidance states that political organisations must;

  • Only send marketing emails, texts and make phone calls to people who have consented to being contacted;
  • Easily identify themselves and provide an easy way to opt-out of future direct marketing;
  • Be clear on whether they are carrying out market research;
  • Be careful when carrying out ‘viral marketing’. This kind of marketing encourages those who are targeted to contact family and friends to spread the message.

In this particularly busy time for political parties, where you will find countless leaflets amongst your post and people stopping you in the street, it is important that they follow the rules. One of the most important of these is you consenting to be contacted.

About the author

Natalie Ruane profile photo

Natalie Ruane

Natalie is a Partner and leads the Employment Law & HR team and specialises in education.

Published: Thursday 5th June 2014
Categorised: Information Law

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