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Thursday 7 May 2015

Telegraph Email - DPA Breach?

Do you subscribe to the paper version of the Daily and Sunday Telegraph? Perhaps you pay to view the Telegraph website. Or respond to their competitions. Or contact them about features in the Travel section. Or want more information about the latest road test before deciding on your new car. Maybe you just participate in their fantasy football league. Well, has the Tel got a surprise for you today.
Do you want these two to tell you how to vote?

You just sent a couple of emails a while back? That’s all the justification needed: as many unsuspecting punters have discovered, the Tel has harvested all those email addresses and used them to send their owners a begging email. This, though, is not asking for any kind of payment, but that the recipients cast their vote for the Tories. And that could have landed the paper in a whole load of trouble.

The Tel’s email, which loftily proclaims it is “From the Editor of The Daily Telegraph”, something which may surprise those who have surveyed the shambles at that paper and wondered if anyone is still in charge, is not even personalised, addressed simply to “Dear Reader”. The message is put all too bluntly.

As the country goes to the polls, I am taking the unprecedented step of sending you the Telegraph’s leading article … That’s because we view this general election as the most important since 1979 [possibly true, but not for the reason you think] … It marks a watershed moment: do we continue under the Conservatives with the open, enterprise-led economic approach that has underpinned our prosperity for nearly 40 years?” 
There’s more: “Or do we revert to an old-style, ‘government-knows-best’ culture championed by the most Left-wing Labour leader for a generation? … All the frenzied talk about a hung parliament and the surge of the SNP is a distraction because in the end, the choice is straightforward: do we want Mr Cameron to continue in Number 10 or to see Ed Miliband installed [legitimacy, eh?] as prime minister?

So what does the wise “Editor of The Daily Telegraph” wish all those recipients to do? “The Daily Telegraph urges its readers to vote Conservative”. Well, knock me down with a feather, how could I have anticipated that, eh? But quite apart from the rank opportunism exhibited by the Tel, there is the possibility that the Data Protection Act may have been breached, and also that this could constitute canvassing.

There is also the total lack of self-awareness here: why should all those who contacted the Tel about travel, sport, or motoring go anywhere near the paper again, knowing that their confidence is going to be manipulated for political purposes? This is one of the most blatant examples of the press taking the public for mugs. And intelligent human beings don’t like being taken for mugs. This is a singularly desperate act.

And it couldn’t backfire on to a more deserving shower. Bad move, Telegraph people.


rob said...

" Well, knock me down with a feather, how could I have anticipated that, eh?"

A Telegraphed pass? Good interception Tim! "Newspaper" timely tackled and counter attack on the open goal made.

Fenton scores again!!

Arnold said...

Disclosing email addresses to third parties without consent breaches the DPA but emailing the owner unsolicited isn't. Against their policy though.
"We always explain why and how we might contact you at the point you give your information to us. We also provide the means for you to grant or withhold your permission for us to contact you We do this by using opt-out tick boxes. If the boxes aren’t there, it’s because we will not use your information for any other purpose than that for which you give it (e.g. to administer a subscription)."

Malcolm Armsteen said...

You should report this to IPSO - oh, wait...