Councils make money from selling on data

Portsmouth Guildhall
Portsmouth Guildhall
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THE personal data of some people living in Portsmouth has been sold on to seven private companies, The News can reveal.

The information is part of the edited electoral roll, which local authorities like Portsmouth City Council are forced to sell if approached by companies.

Under data rules, residents can opt out of being on the edited electoral roll, and as such their information won’t be sold on.

Portsmouth City Council sold the data to Amanda Linton, Affinity Sutton, South Coast Mortgages, Tyndall Centre for climate change research, TSS marketing, Andy Ng, and Ashiq Hussain.

David Williams, Portsmouth City Council’s electoral registration officer said: ‘Under national regulations the council is required to make the edited version of the electoral register available for general sale.

‘Every year the council sends a voter registration form to each address in the city and residents can tick the box to opt out of being included in this version of the register.

‘Income from the sale of the edited register since 2007 currently stands at £609.’

Fareham Borough Council made £490.82 in the past five years from sales of the register to organisations and individuals, a freedom of information request from the Big Brother Watch privacy group found.

The group also found that Gosport Borough Council sold none of its information, Havant Borough Council made £452.50 by selling it to three organisations and one firm of solicitors, and Winchester City Council made £1,117.75 by selling information to 19 organisations over the five years between 2007 and 2012.

Hampshire County Council did not respond to the request as it does not collect the data.

Some 307 local authorities sold the edited electoral register to more than 2,700 different companies and individuals between 2007 and 2012.

Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: ‘Many people don’t realise that the pizza shops and estate agents drowning their doorsteps with junk mail are able to do so because their local council is forced to sell the names of every voter who fails to tick the right box when they register to vote.

‘The edited register is a pointless waste of council time, undermines trust in the electoral system and contributes to huge volumes of junk mail.

‘It should be abolished.’