Tories fined £10,000 after sending unwanted campaign emails

ICO said the breach of data protection laws was “serious”

The Conservative Party has been fined £10,000 for sending 51 marketing emails to people who did not want to receive them.

The fine comes after an Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) investigation relating to emails sent from the Conservative Party in the name of the UK prime minister, Boris Johnson, launched in an eight-day period after he was appointed in July 2019.

The emails set out Conservative political priorities, with the last sentence including a link directing them to a website for joining the Conservative Party. The ICO found, however, that the party failed to retain clear records of the basis upon which people can consent to receive marketing emails, as required by law.

"The public have rights when it comes to how their personal data is used for marketing," said the ICO's director of investigations, Stephen Eckersley. "Getting messages to potential voters is important in a healthy democracy, but political parties must follow the law when doing so. The Conservative Party ought to have known this but failed to comply with the law.

"All organisations – be they political parties, businesses or others – should give people clear information and choices about what is being done with their personal data. Direct marketing laws are clear, and it is the responsibility of all organisations to ensure they comply."

In the eight-day period, the Conservative Party sent out 1,190,280 marketing emails but the regulator found that not all emails were in breach of the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), as it's likely some of the emails will have been validly sent. Due to the lack of record-keeping, however, it wasn't possible to determine the proportion that wasn't validly sent.

Investigators concluded that the Tory Party didn't have valid consent for the 51 marketing emails received by the complainants. It also failed to ensure records of those who had unsubscribed from its marketing emails were properly transferred when it changed email provider.

During its investigations, it was determined the Conservative Party engaged in an industrial-scale marketing email exercise in the December 2019 General Election campaign, sending nearly 23 million emails. This generated a further 95 complaints, which are likely to have resulted from the party's failure to address the original compliance issues identified in July 2019.

Featured Resources

Defeating ransomware with unified security from WatchGuard

How SMBs can defend against the onslaught of ransomware attacks

Free download

The IT expert’s guide to AI and content management

How artificial intelligence and machine learning could be critical to your business

Free download

The path to CX excellence

Four stages to thrive in the experience economy

Free download

Becoming an experience-based business

Your blueprint for a strong digital foundation

Free download

Most Popular

Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant
video conferencing

Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant

14 Sep 2021
What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers
data breaches

Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers

2 Sep 2021