Selling the Electoral Roll

It seems that officials back a ban on the selling of the electoral roll to marketing companies:

There is massive support among election officials in England for a ban on the sale of voters’ personal data to direct mail companies, a survey has found.

The Local Government Association poll of more than 200 administrators found 98% supported an end to the practice.

Voters can opt out of the roll sold to firms, but the Information Commissioner has recommended an outright ban.

I opted out at the first opportunity. That, combined with registering to have my name blocked on the DMA’s lists seems to have stemmed the flow of junk mail to zilch. Yup – apart from the occasional bundle of unaddressed stuff delivered via the Royal Mail, I’ve not had one unsolicited mailshot for some years now. I do still get the occasional unwanted automated telephone call – but they are a rarity too. Usually it is a recorded voice telling me I’ve won something or other. I generally hang up before it gets beyond “congratulations! You’ve…”

So, it is possible to stop these people and not letting them have access to one’s details via the electoral roll is one weapon in the armoury.

To date, about 40% of people have chosen to opt out.

Given the general hostility towards direct marketing mailshots, I’m surprised that figure isn’t higher. I would say, though, that with that level of opt-out, the usefulness of the information to marketing companies is significantly reduced; to the point where it probably isn’t worth buying.

The Direct Marketing Association said the majority of its members used the edited roll only to confirm the accuracy of the personal details they held.

And it said that banning sales could lead to more, not less unwanted mail.

They would say that, wouldn’t they?


  1. I’m not surprised that it is dying. As for email, I treat unsolicited approaches in the same way as with the paper variety. What I can’t do is opt-out from lists unless I am absolutely sure that the company concerned is genuine. Therein lies the problem, there isn’t a DMA opt-out equivalent in the online world.

    So, it’s ruthless SPAM filters all round, then.

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