ICO Hands Politicians Data Protection Warning After David Lammy MP Fine

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David Lammy gets £5,000 fine after two day, 35,000 automated call binge as ICO tells political campaigns to respect the law

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned political parties and political campaigners to respect data protection laws ahead of the EU referendum, local elections and Mayor of London vote after Labour MP David Lammy was fined £5,000 for making automated nuisance calls.

Lammy, who hoped to win the Labour nomination for Mayor of London, admitted to making 35,629 automated calls over a two day period in August 2015, urging recipients to back his candidacy bid.

The calls were made to numbers belonging to Labour party members but recorded calls can only be made to people who have given their permission – something the ICO’s investigation found Lammy did not have.

Lammy ICO fine

government parliament big ben public sector bus clouds © CristinaMuraca Shutterstock government parliament big ben public sector bus clouds © CristinaMuraca ShutterstockThe ICO said the breach was “serious” but not deliberate, although it said Lammy should have been more aware of his responsibilities and taken steps to prevent an infraction from occurring.

However it said the MP for Tottenham cooperated fully with the investigation and the level of the fine took into account the fact it was “unlikely” Labour party members would have been distressed by the calls, which were a “one off” and not for commercial gain.

TechWeekEurope has contacted Lammy and will update this article if we receive a response.

“The rules apply to political groups canvassing for votes in the same way they apply to salespeople offering a discount on double glazing,” said Information Commissioner Christopher Graham. “If you want to call someone in this way, you must follow these rules. Mr Lammy did not, and that is why he has been fined.

“It’s not good enough to assume the people you’re contacting probably won’t mind. The law requires you to have permission before making calls with recorded messages. And if the law isn’t followed, the regulator will act.”

“Mr Lammy’s team should have known there were special controls in place around calls with recorded messages. Not only have we published detailed guidance on political campaigning on our website, but we have contacted political parties directly to remind them of the rules.”

Earlier this month, the ICO issued a ‘record’ £350,000 fine to Prodial, a Brighton-based lead generation firm responsible for 46 million automated calls, which promptly went into liquidation.

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