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Tory-commissioned call centres 'might have bent data protection laws'

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'Blue Telecoms', any link to the fact that the traditional colour of the Tory party is blue, or just a coincidence?

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Possibly not a coincidence. Their CEO is a failed Tory council candidate and supposedly an expert in voter communications.

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Apparently the CEO is an ex Conservative MP candidate, and a party member, so almost certainly a definite link!

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Hmmm

"All the scripts supplied by the party for these calls are compliant with data protection and information law."

Got be to honest, I would have questioned the individual on what they thought that sentence actually means.

I regularly get into discussion with telephone sales / marketing / call centre people. Whenever they say that xyz is for "data protection purposes", I ask them which clause of the Data Protection Act 1998 requires that they ask me for that information. I've never yet had a single person that even understands the question; they are trained to ask their question, but have little to no understanding of the actual purpose of the Act, and what it relates to in terms of their particular job function.

In many cases, it's clear that the companies concerned are just ticking boxes, and know that they are required to do *something* for Data Protection; but I have to say I am not convinced that they are always adhering to the complete legal requirements.

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Re: Hmmm

90 % of the time its principle 7: "Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data"

in otherwords, they are confirming identity before unlawfully disclosing it to the wrong person.

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Re: Hmmm

"I regularly get into discussion with telephone sales / marketing / call centre people. Whenever they say that xyz is for "data protection purposes", I ask them which clause of the Data Protection Act 1998 requires that they ask me for that information. I've never yet had a single person that even understands the question; they are trained to ask their question, but have little to no understanding of the actual purpose of the Act, and what it relates to in terms of their particular job function."

Because they're told it's for Data Protection, as in they need to make sure you are the person their data belongs to.

This falls down on those f**king cold callers who call on "behalf of your insurer". Often I ask them what accident they are referring to, who my insurer is. "I can't tell you because of Data Protection" - at which point I ask "Well tell me how I can be identified by you telling me who my insurer is and when this accident took place?"

They soon hang up, the scum.

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Holmes

Re: Hmmm

FTA: "A Conservative Party spokesman said: "Political parties of all colours pay for market research and direct marketing calls. All the scripts supplied by the party for these calls are compliant with data protection and information law." "

BS Translate-o-tron: "We didn't do it, and everyone else is doing it too."

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Re: Hmmm

"behalf of your insurer".

A variant on that is the call on behalf of a utility supplier. I don't recollect details, but one such surprised me by actually knowing who my supplier was.

Come to think of it, that was probably mobile phone, and they could reference the number back to the provider.

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Re: Hmmm

@wolfetone

at which point I ask "Well tell me how I can be identified by you telling me who my insurer is and when this accident took place?"

They soon hang up, the scum.

I frequently get this sort of situation when a utility (telco, electricity supplier), bank, insurance company and others call me out of the blue with the intent of trying to upsell me in some manner.

After they've initiated the conversation, they'll then start asking for me to provide various identifying data - date of birth, address, and whatnot - in which case I refuse to provide the information. This throws them for a bit, and I explain why I'm refusing - I don't know who they are. They're calling me, I have no knowledge that they are who they say they are, maybe first they should give me their DoB, address, full name, before I start handing my data to them which can be used for identity theft.

Honestly, most of them do get it once I've explained it, but a few, usually obvious foreign call-centres who are probably being paid on commission, argue the point for a bit before one of us (me in amusement, them in anger) hangs up.

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ICO involvement?

From reading some of the reports, I think Mr Plod may also take an interest. Sadly all the ICO can do is fine them, and the Tories have buckets of dirty money to spend.

It would be nice if the Electoral Commish could take a stand and deliver a five-year ban on the party using telephones or social media in any election. And possibly even order a bye-election in the marginals they targetted.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ICO involvement?

Given the way the 2015 election expenses were handled, I wouldn't hold my breath.

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Re: ICO involvement?

They also did campaigning on election day, which is flat out illegal (and a matter for the Police).

Though as another comment points out, the "public interest" will be used to avoid actually doing anything about it.

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Re: ICO involvement?

Wrong - it's not illegal to campaign on election day in the UK.

There are some restrictions around what can be done near polling stations (i.e. you can't intimidate voters etc), and there are lots of restrictions on what the media can do/say on election day, but nothing to stop a candidate or their campaign doing anything, including making phone calls.

Indeed most candidates will have their teams out knocking up expected voters (either in person or by phone) to ensure they go out and vote etc...

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Boffin

Re: ICO involvement?

Only a bit wrong: it's illegal to pay anyone to campaign to election day.

And the call centre staff were indeed being paid.

Representation of the People Act, Section 111: prohibits ‘payment as a canvasser for the purpose of promoting or procuring a candidate’s election’.

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Re: ICO involvement?

"nothing to stop a candidate or their campaign doing anything, including making phone calls."

In 2015 a similar Tory phone spam campaign was launched on polling day, targetting TPS-listed phones and attracted a large fine.

If the ICO and Ofcom agreed on statutory per call damages, then the citizenry would be more than happy to take care of enforcement via small claims courts.

I've been repeatedly told this is impossible because it would cause the small claims system to collapse under the load - which brings up the point that if the criminality is that bad, why aren't the ICO and Ofcom dishing out multi-million pound fines every week?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: ICO involvement?

knocking up expected voters

Always knew that they were fucking us

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IT Angle

To summarize

Cons engage the mate's company to do propaganda (same here in France, don't worry), the company in question does not disclose its real name to victims ... election fraud ?

Just to be 100% clear on this, this is tax payer's money being funneled into a mate's company!

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Boffin

Re: To summarize

Tory party money, not tax payer surely

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Facepalm

Re: To summarize

I think you will find they are remarkable similar. (I also have investments in companies that seem to pay no attention to their shareholders but do lionne to promote their execs chances at a gong)

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FAIL

I've had a chance to see the Ch4 report

and it's pretty obvious to anyone who's been on the wrong end of one of these people that it's a sales call, not a "Survey" call from both the questions and script around them.

The product being sold is either a) The Conservative Party" or b) The actual candidate in that constituency.

And since these are marginal constituencies (especially in Wales) I'd say there is a "public interest" call for the CPS to prosecute to clear the air and make sure the last British election was run cleanly and fairly and that Teresa May "almost won" on a level playing field.

Because if she didn't you'd have to wonder how badly the Conservative Party would have been thrashed. 28, rather than 8 below an absolute majority perhaps?

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Anonymous Coward

But...

Aren't the police there to prevent the Tory's getting prosecuted?

;)

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Joke

Although it could have been a bit more blatant.....

"Hello, is the the old codger that lives at this address...

Good, this is Tory Central Office calling. Teresa May, y'know, the Prime Minister. Yes that's the one. She has a special message for you. Would you like to hear it? You would. Great. Here it is.

"Put your slippers on an get your f**king a**e down to the polling station. Turn right outside your house and it's 200 yards down the road with a big sign outside saying "Polling Station." When you get there vote Conservative, because if you don't I will lose the election and you will be forced to house a homeless family of Syrian Gypsies."

Yes Syrian Gypsies*, they're the worst. That's right. Better get moving. Bye bye.

*I have no idea if there are any travelers in Syrian, but I doubt CCO knows either.

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