The UK Home Office recently published draft regulations regarding the sale and supply of the electoral register. As the moment, the regulations don’t allow the full electoral register to be used for list cleaning purposes.
It is now proposed to have two versions: the full register and the edited register.
• The full register lists everyone who is entitled to vote, and may be used only for electoral purposes, prevention and detection of crime and credit referencing, and other ways specified. It may not be used for list cleaning.
• The edited register leaves out people who have asked to be excluded from that version. It can be bought by anyone and may be used for any purpose. This register may be used for list cleaning. However, whether this is effective depends upon how many people opt out.
Such a restriction would have a devastating financial impact on the direct marketing industry. The DMA, understandably, wants the permitted uses to be extended to allow list cleaning and statistical analysis, and is lobbying for support.
Those who suffer from junk mail and spam, however, are rubbing their hands at the prospect of wriggling off the marketing hook.
Marketing relies hugely on the electoral register for its information, and is counting the costs of getting data from other less reliable sources, not to mention the financial implication of more staff and IT.
Poor targeting leads to wastage, and increased production and postal costs where companies revert to blanket mailings.
The legal affairs manager of the Direct Marketing Association did not respond to an invitation to comment.
The DMA presents its case to the Home Office on 25 May.