Many of you may be aware of The Telegraph’s bold endorsement of the Conservative party in the General Election with their front page bearing the headline, “Don’t do something you’ll regret”. What has emerged since is abuse of their email subscribers’ privacy when it was revealed an email had been sent out to their entire email database on the eve of the General Election.
What exactly happened?
In an astonishingly move, the Telegraph newspaper sent an email to its entire email database on the eve of UK’s 2015 General Election urging the recipients, in no uncertain terms, to vote for the Conservative.
What was the reaction?
While many newspapers are known to be biased towards one political party, to use email databases to actively and directly tell the public who to vote for is another matter. As you’d imagine there’s been a public outcry and a number of complaints from those who received the email. Some were not even aware The Telegraph was in possession of their email address, while other recipients had signed up to a specific newsletter, such as the paper’s Tech or Financial newsletters.
Here are some of the reactions on Twitter:
That Telegraph marketing email encouraging people to vote Tory is rotten to the core. What a decline. How can it call itself a newspaper.
— Richard Stanton (@RichStanton) May 7, 2015
The Daily Telegraph has emailed its readers urging them to vote Tory. The Telegraph is owned by tax dodgers. Draw your own conclusions.
— Christopher Reason (@LotteryLarry) May 7, 2015
And some of the responses from those who has received the email:
So I once signed up to the Telegraph wkly Tech Roundup, so I've received the paper's VOTE TORY begging email.
— rach (@rachel_h) May 7, 2015
The Daily Telegraph sent me an email this AM urging me to vote Tory. How do they have my email address? Not a subscriber/reader? Furious…
— oliver milburn (@Omilburn) May 7, 2015
Were any laws broken?
The question of whether The Telegraph broke Data Protection or Electronic Communications laws when they sent this email is now being investigated by the Information Commissioner’s Office and a decision is expected in several weeks time.
Could this set a precedent for the future?
It will be interesting to keep an eye on the ICO’s investigation and what becomes of the situation. Such high profile abuses of email privacy do not come along all the time. It is also difficult to find cases like this on such a large scale. It’s these factors that lead us to believe that the outcome of the investigation may set a precedence of sorts for how we can expect questionable email use to be dealt with in the future. Keep an eye out for this one in the news!