Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear. It seems the campaign to rid the Labour Party of Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership – replacing him with either Owen Smith or Angela Eagle – may have crossed the line into crime.
The illegality appears to involve online Corbyn-removal campaign Saving Labour, along with the Blairite think tank Progress, and Labour First, which is currently trying to get six right-wing candidates onto Labour’s National Executive Committee to block Mr Corbyn’s policies there.
It occurs to This Writer that anybody who may gain an electoral advantage from the criminal activity detailed below should be barred from the elections currently taking place within the Labour Party.
Read this, from Tim Turner’s information law blog:
Saving Labour is a new organisation dedicated to replacing Jeremy Corbyn as leader of the Labour Party. It may quickly need to be saved from itself. An extract from a document that appears to be from Saving Labour is being circulated on Twitter by Corbyn supporters, annoyed about what it contains. The documents contains advice on how to obtain personal data of lapsed members who are likely to be anti-Corbyn because they left the party when around the time he became leader. The document then advocates contacting them for support.
If Saving Labour (or rogue individuals) are attempting to recruit Labour members back into Labour, then the processing of data is likely to be a breach of Data Protection’s fairness requirements. If Saving Labour are trying to recruit members to Saving Labour’s mailing list or retaining data for its purposes, it’s potentially a lot worse. The most important thing here is that Saving Labour is not a faction of Labour; it is a separate Data Controller with its own Data Protection notification. If Saving Labour are obtaining data or getting others to obtain it on their behalf and for their purposes without Labour’s knowledge, it’s at least a civil breach of Data Protection.
Even if a senior Labour Party official gave explicit approval for someone to harvest personal data and use it, the likelihood of a Data Protection breach is still high. Unless the Labour Party told members that that their data would be shared with another organisation or processed after their membership had lapsed for marketing purposes, then the disclosure / processing would be a breach of the First Data Protection principle, which requires all processing of personal data to be fair. The chief element of fairness is that the person is told about how their data will be processed.
It doesn’t end there. The document encourages MPs and councillors to “call” lapsed members to encourage them to join. As I blogged only yesterday, every part of the Data Protection system has made clear that calls made for the purposes of political campaigning are marketing – so if the callers do not screen any telephone numbers against the Telephone Preference Service, it would be a breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations. If they send emails or texts without explicit consent from the person, it would be a breach of PECR. It’s extremely hard to imagine that any consent given to the Labour Party could survive a lapsed membership, and Saving Labour would not have that consent in the first place.
So, according to this tweet, it was not just Saving Labour, but Progress (responsible for the T-shirt smear against Jeremy Corbyn last month) and Labour First as well.
Confirmation that Progress is behind this illegal stunt came very quickly, and you can read it for yourself here.
So it really is happening – and is entirely illegal.
One wonders what the people most likely to benefit from this crime – Angela Eagle and Owen Smith – have to say about it.This Writer understands that Labour’s general secretary, Iain McNicol, has been informed. That’s lovely but he hasn’t been fantastically effective in curbing the excesses of the anti-Corbyn brigade so far.
The greatest irony is that, in encouraging this illegal activity, the Blairites are breaking the Data Protection Act 1998, a law passed by a Labour government – under their idol Tony Blair.
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