The Telegraph newspaper has been fined £30,000 for emailing readers on the day of the General election and telling them to vote for the Conservative party.
The penalty was imposed by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), the independent office that regulates the way organisations use data.
Chris Evans the Telegraph editor who wrote the email told readers he was taking the “unprecedented step” of writing to them because the Telegraph believed the election was the “most important since 1979.” The email concluded with “The Daily Telegraph urges its readers to vote Conservative.”
You can read the whole email below.
The ICO’s head of enforcement Steve Eckersley said the Telegraph were wrong to attach the letter from Evans to their daily new bulletin, because the people who signed up to the bulletin were expecting to receive news, not to be told who to vote for.
People signed up to The Telegraph’s email service so they could catch up on the news or find out about subjects they were interested in. They did not expect to be told who they should be voting for.
By promoting a political campaign, the Telegraph broke rules around direct marketing. None of their subscribers had given specific consent to receive political marketing, which made sending the email a breach of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations.
The ICO did concede that the editorial letter was only added to the email at the last minute and time pressure meant there was not enough time to “properly consider whether the appropriate permissions were in place.” They said they took this into consideration when imposing the fine. The ICO has the power to impose fines of up to £500,000.
The Telegraph is often referred to humorously by publications such as the British satirical and current affairs magazine Private Eye as “The Torygraph,” because of its perceived bias towards the Conservative party.
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