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Friday, October 05, 2007

Hanging on the telephone

Sanddef reports on an article in Golwg, which alleges that Labour is turning its back on the Welsh language by making automated monoglot English telephone calls in the Carmarthen West and South Pembrokeshire constituency:

According to Plaid, these "robo-calls" were monoglot English, even though over a quarter of the constituency's population speak Welsh.

"Labour has been complaining about bilingual train announcements and chose not to be present at the National Eisteddfod," said Helen Mary Jones AM.

"Now, they can't be bothered to translate a message for people in an area with a high percentage of Welsh speakers.

"Obviously they have a lot to learn about the language."

Important as this issue is, perhaps Plaid Cymru would care to look at this ruling by Information Commissioner against the SNP in May 2006. The UK Information Tribunal dismissed an Appeal by the SNP, upholding the view of the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) that the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 apply to political parties making appeals for funds or support.

The Regulations forbid the making of unsolicited marketing live voice calls to numbers registered on the Telephone Preference Service (TPS). They also forbid the making of wholly automated unsolicited marketing calls to any subscriber who has not consented:

Leading up to the 2005 General Election the SNP made a substantial number of automated calls to Scottish households. A recorded message from Sir Sean Connery urging voters to support the SNP was played. Calls were made to voters who had not given their consent. Though the SNP did try to avoid making calls to numbers registered on the TPS, a few voters received calls despite being registered with the TPS.

The Tribunal recognised that the ICO had, since rules on unsolicited marketing were first introduced in 1998, consistently made clear that it considered the promotion of a political party as marketing and had contacted the major political parties to advise them of this on several occasions.

As the SNP continued to make automated calls, and disputed that such calls were subject to the Regulations, the ICO initiated formal enforcement action. This culminated in the serving of an Enforcement Notice. The SNP subsequently appealed the notice.

Commenting on the ruling, Phil Jones, Assistant Commissioner at the ICO, said: “I am pleased that the Tribunal has upheld our view that direct marketing by political parties is subject to the Regulations. It is helpful to have such a clear ruling on this matter which should help to ensure that it is quite clear to political parties that they have to comply with the Regulations. I acknowledge that the SNP tried to avoid making calls to numbers registered on the TPS. However, if their view that promotional calls by political parties are not direct marketing calls had been upheld then neither they, nor any other political party, would have to take account of the rules on unsolicited marketing.”

Political parties can legitimately make unsolicited live voice marketing calls to any number not registered on TPS, unless the subscriber has advised them directly that they do not want such calls.

It sounds like Labour need to be very careful who they telephone.
Hmmm, interesting. Very interesting. A forsee the Western Mail covering this tomorrow as a result...
They weren't very careful about who they telephoned... John Gossage received one of those calls!
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