The Labour Party may be planning to hire an army of volunteers to canvass voters who have opted out of unsolicited cold-calling, in an attempt to exploit a technical loop-hole in data protection laws.
Under the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998, it is illegal for political parties to ask for funds or support from individuals signed up to the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). But according to Labour’s chief press and broadcasting officer, Adrian McMenamin, unpaid volunteers can campaign to the opt-out voters.
McMenamin says that although it is illegal for paid party workers to campaign to voters who have opted to block unwanted calls, volunteers can work “off-script”. He says: “We are now talking hypothetically, but it is not illegal for unpaid volunteers to canvass people over the phone.” He refuses to give any further details.
Last week, Marketing Week revealed that the Conservative Party was using call centres to contact people who have opted-out of unsolicited cold-calling (MW last week). Labour has also been calling people registered with TPS. Both parties insist the calls are for research purposes.
The Liberal Democrats have complained to the Information Commissioner’s Office, which oversees the DPA.