David Lammy, MP fined £5,000
Article added: 15/03/2016
There was a time when people though that charities and political parties alike were considered to be immune from the rules governing cold calling.
However, a recent fine issued by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) to David Lammy MP shows that’s not the case.
David Lammy organised for nearly 36,000 automated calls to be sent over a two day period playing a recorded message that urged people to back his campaign to be the Labour party candidate for the Mayor of London.
Automated calls are governed by the Privacy Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and can only be sent with the recipient’s specific consent, which the ICO established David Lammy did not have.
David LammyMP for Tottenham
Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said:
“The rules apply to political groups canvassing for votes in exactly the same way as they apply to salespeople offering a discount on double glazing. If you want to contact someone in this way, you must follow these rules. Mr Lammy did not, and that is why he has been fined.”
“It’s not good enough to assume the people you’re contacting probably won’t mind. The law requires you to have permission before making calls with recorded messages. And if the law isn’t followed, the we will act.”
In the run up to the EU referendum and several other key elections, the ICO is reiterating its advice to political parties to take ensure they follow the rules.
Although David Lammy was provided the data by the Labour party, he did not make the additional checks necessary to ensure he was able to contact the people with recorded messages.
Mr Graham said:
“Mr Lammy’s team should have known there were special controls in place around calls with recorded messages. Not only have we published detailed guidance on political campaigning on our website, but we have contacted political parties directly to remind them of the rules.”
Investigators also found that the company Mr Lammy used to make the calls on his behalf routinely advises prospective customers of their obligations.
This is not the first time the ICO has taken action over political campaigning that falls short of the law.
Back in December 2015 the ICO fined the Telegraph Media Group £30,000 for sending hundreds of thousands of emails on the day of the general election urging readers to vote Conservative.
In November 2013, in the run-up to the Scottish Referendum, the Better Together campaign signed an undertaking after sending 300,000 text messages to individuals without checking whether they had consented to receiving the messages under the rules of PECR.