Areas of Conservative Party telephone marketing campaign "crossed the line", says Information Commissioner’s Office
But the ICO has stopped short of imposing a formal punishment on the party because “the overall campaign was genuine market research”
Image credit: PA
Areas of the Conservative Party’s telephone marketing campaign in the run up to the snap general election “crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing”, according to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
The watchdog launched an investigation after a Channel 4 investigation uncovered evidence suggesting the work conducted by a market research firm employed by the Tories went beyond data collection and into campaigning.
But the ICO has stopped short of imposing a formal punishment on the party because “the overall campaign was genuine market research”.
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In his verdict, head of Enforcement at the ICO Steve Eckersley said two paragraphs discussing the policy choices of Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn “fell outside the bounds” of market research.
He said: “We’ve found that two small sections of the written scripts used by those making the calls crossed the line from legitimate market research to unlawful direct marketing.”
“We’ve warned the Conservative Party to get it right next time.”
He added: “We’ve stopped short of formal regulatory action because the overall campaign was genuine market research.
“The two sections we had concerns about were not enough to trigger formal enforcement action when considered along with the campaign as a whole.”
“In addition, the results of the survey were not saved against any individual so they could not be targeted for future marketing.
“But we have been clear about what we expect in the future.”
A separate investigation into the call centre campaigning is being conducted by South Wales police.
A Labour spokesperson told Holyrood’s sister site PoliticsHome: "We can't comment on an ongoing police investigation."
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MSPs urged ministers to write to public bodies at the start of the reporting cycle, and at regular intervals, to remind them of their duties