UK government's Information Commissioner takes enforcement action against Liberal Democrat party for cold calling voters

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Liberal Democrat party has been criticized for automatically telephoning voters
Image: Theo.

Richard Thomas, the British Information Commissioner has criticized the Liberal Democrats for cold calling 250,000 British people automatically to encourage them to support their party. The commissioner announced in a press release made public on Thursday that "the Information Commissioner’s Office has taken enforcement action against the Liberal Democrats after finding the party in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations."

In the enforcement notice, which has been seen by Wikinews, the Liberal Democrats are told that "in view of the matters referred to above the Commissioner hereby gives notice that, in exercise of his powers under section 40 of the [Data Protection] Act, he requires that the Liberal Democrats within 30 days of the date of service of this Notice shall, in accordance with Regulation 19 of the Regulations, cease using an automated calling system to transmit communications comprising recorded matter for direct marketing purposes to subscribers who have not previously notified the Liberal Democrats that they consent to such communications being sent to them."

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Should the Liberal Democrats face sanctions for their actions?

The Liberal Democrats have been given 28 days to appeal against the action, although the party has said that they accept the decision. In 2005, the party successfully stopped the Scottish National Party for continuing to carry out a similar cold calling campaign. Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, defended the party's actions by saying that "I rather hope it won't disturb. People don't have to pick up the phone if they don't like the time at which the call is made."

If the Liberal Democrats continue to cold call users in thirty days time, they are at risk of prosecution and an unlimited fine.

Sources

Wikinews
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