Don’t let the council flog your personal details

Residents across Croydon will have been receiving a notification from the council to confirm their details on the electoral register, to ensure that they will be able to vote at next May’s local and European elections.

IMG_0780[1]But some have raised eyebrows at a little column on the edge of the form under the heading “Edited Register”, and they are wondering whether the council is trying to make a fast buck out of selling people’s personal details.

There are two registers – the full register and the edited register.

The full register is the electoral record, and while it is information that is properly in the public domain, it is “a criminal offence to supply or use copies for purposes other than those set down in law”, the council states. Basically, it is illegal for them to sell this list to commercial organisations for advertising and direct marketing purposes.

The edited register, however, can be sold by the council, but it only includes the address and details of those who allow the council permission to include them.

It is a matter of some debate whether Croydon Council, by operating on the basis of “assumed consent”, requiring residents to tick a box to opt out of the edited register, might even be in breach of the provisions of the Data Protection Act.

The Data Protection Act usually requires organisations to obtain a person’s active permission before being able to flog off their personal details.It is not good enough, under the law, just to assume that they will be OK with their personal details being passed on to third parties.

Here, Croydon Council seems to be hoping to make a tidy little profit from people’s basic inertia when it comes to official-looking forms, their impatience with the small print, or simply not noticing that the form requires them to place a tick alongside their name if they wish to withhold their details from insurance salesmen, double glazing agents, credit card companies and the like.

“I ticked the box years ago, and in the past the form always reproduced this,” our loyal reader told Inside Croydon yesterday. “But now they are asking for it again. Seems a bit odd.”

For its part, the council says that “We are sorry but we cannot include your previous preference on your details appearing on the edited register.” It does not explain why this may be.

It could just be another Croydon Council IT shambles. Or it could be that they really are trying to exploit Council Tax-payers to make a few more quid from residents on the quiet.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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