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Councils slated by civil liberties group for selling voters' details
THE names and addresses of people registered to vote in the region have been sold to dozens of corporations and individuals, according to privacy campaigners.
Civil liberties group Big Brother Watch say more than 300 local authorities across the UK made money out of voters' details over five years.
The figures obtained under a Freedom of Information Act by the group detail how many times councils sold their edited electoral registers.
Westminster council in London sold its electoral register 93 times, making it the most prolific seller.
Three other councils - Elmbridge, Kensington and Chelsea and Broadland - sold their edited registers to more than 50 buyers.
In the North-East and North Yorkshire, Newcastle City Council made £1,458 by selling its register 11 times.
Its buyers included the University of Newcastle, the University of West of England, a driving school, the police and two individuals.
Companies including Data Trans Ltd, HD Financial Solutions, Opinion Leader, Newcastle Dog and Cat Shelter and Sanderson Young also bought the edited electoral register.
Newcastle also bought a copy of North Tyneside Council’s edited electoral register.
Harrogate Borough Council sold its edited register more times over the last five years than any other council in the region, making the information available 21 times.
Richmondshire, Redcar & Cleveland and Darlington councils all sold their registers on less than three occasions over five years.
A proportion of all buyers were charities and social enterprises.
Darlington made £70 selling its edited register to a church, a residents’ association and a market.
Big Brother Watch director Nick Pickles said: ''Registering to vote is a basic part of our democracy and should not be a back door for our names and addresses to be sold to anyone and everyone.
''Many people don't realise that the pizza shops and estate agents drowning their doorsteps with junk mail are able to do so because their local council is forced to sell the names of every voter who fails to tick the right box when they register to vote."
It is calling on the Government to abolish the edited register or allow councils to offer people a permanent opt-out instead of the current system that requires people to opt out annually.
COUNCIL/NUMBER OF TIMES REGISTER SOLD/MONEY RECEIVED
- Darlington Borough Council 3 (£70)
- Durham 0
- Gateshead Council 7 (£958.40)
- Hambleton District Council 8 (£212.50)
- Harrogate Borough Council 21 (no cost details)
- Hartlepool Borough Council 5 (£456.50)
- Middlesbrough Council 8 (no cost details)
- Newcastle City Council 11 (1,458.50)
- North Tyneside Council 8 (£824)
- North Yorkshire (not responsible for electoral roll)
- Northumberland (number of sales not provided) (£4,410)
- Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council 1 (£149)
- Richmondshire District Council 1 (£20)
- Scarborough Borough Council 4 (£153)
- South Tyneside (unspecified) (£422)
- Stockton Borough Council 6 (£778.50)
- Sunderland City Council 4 (£781.50)
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