On Christmas eve I got an email wishing me a happy Christmas. How nice and thoughtful. Except it was sent to lots of other people too, from somebody I’ve never met, never spoken to and never expected to be sent Christmas greetings from.
Turns out I’d been put on a new mailing list that Rex Osborn (a local Labour councillor) has decided to set up. He didn’t introduce himself, explain where he’d got my email address from or why I might want to receive his updates. In short, I’m pretty sure he’s in breach of the data protection act.
My local Labour MP, Sadiq Khan, is no better. Despite regularly requesting (in almost all contact with him) that he only contact me by email and may not use my postal address, all responses come though the post. On all sorts of irrelevant topics (I really don’t care which care home he’s visited this quarter).
Don’t they train these people? It’s really pretty simple. It’s not even about following the Data Protection Act to the letter. It’s about the spirit of the act and a basic respect for people’s preferences and rights over their own personal information.
Anyway, I’ve written back pointing this out (below, including the original email I received). I’ll update if I ever get a response.
from: mydogminton to: Councillor Rex Osborn <firstname.lastname@example.org> date: 28 December 2008 18:21 subject Re: An seasonal message from Councillor Rex Osborn
Given that this a new mailing list which I didn't ask to be put onto, you might at least introduce yourself (who exactly are you) and say something of relevance rather than just a Christmas greeting from somebody I don't know. You don't even include a link to a relevant web page so I can find out for myself.
You could also explain where you got the recipient's email addresses from and why you thought we/they would want to be on this mailing list. I am not saying that I don't want to receive your updates - I simply don't know as I have no idea who you are, what party you represent and what information might be in these mail outs.
Starting off with a clearly labelled "Remove" option does not absolve you from responsibilities under the data protection act.
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from: Councillor Rex Osborn to: Councillor Rex Osborn date: 24 December 2008 22:36 subject: An seasonal message from Councillor Rex Osborn
To be removed from Councillor Rex Osborn’s email distribution please respond with REMOVE as subject.
As a new initiative I have created an email distribution list and for its launch I am sending everybody a seasonal message. So before anything else let me wish you Season’s Greetings.
Over coming weeks and months I shall send out information and occasional bulletins to this distribution list. In addition, if you think I can help with anything then do let me know. (If you are not interested or have moved away then I can easily remove you from the list.)
I look forward to hearing from you.
Best Wishes Cllr Rex Osborn