You've got junk mail: because councils are selling your details
Wonder why you get so much junk mail and pizza flyers? Well that might be because your council has been selling your personal data to private companies – for the princely sum of £5 a pop.
For the past five years, town halls have been making a tidy profit passing on your details to estate agencies, kebab shops and direct marketing companies. The electoral register is a public document that is free for anyone to look at. But when you register to vote, you’re automatically put on an edited version of the electoral register. If you didn’t tick the miniscule box to opt out of having your details passed on, they are sold. Then, mysteriously, you receive thousands of leaflets advertising Wario’s 2 for 1 Munchie Box Deal.
Pressure group Big Brother Watch have revealed in a report that over 300 council have sold the register to 2700 companies, netting £250,000 in total. The result is a pile of unsolicited junk, and a rather underhand violation of privacy.
The group is calling for the practice to be scrapped – and they’re supported by the Electoral Commission, who are concerned that potential voters will be put off by the sale of their personal details.
‘Registering to vote is a basic part of our democracy’ said Nick Pickles from Big Brother Watch. ‘It should not be a back door for our names and addresses to be sold to anyone and everyone. 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.’
And I thought it was just because I really love pizza.