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back to article Political targeting: An unhealthy business

Over-targeting of electoral messages can cause problems, as the Labour Party found out to its cost last week when opponents accused it of exploiting confidential individual data to warn breast cancer sufferers that they might die under a Tory government. The episode was, according to Tory leader David Cameron "sick" and "an …

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Silver badge
WTF?

"before the age of 95"?

So how much statistical data do they have for women contracting breast cancer *after* the age of 95...?

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Gold badge

Not electoral suicide to lie

If you won't get caught until after the election. It would be very possible for Labour to have got this information illicitly, then lie about it, knowing that no report will be completed until well after the election result in known.

However I'm not sure that's the case here. It's just that a lot of people have had breast cancer, and this card targeted a lot of people.

Although it does make me wonder if this was the effect Labour intended to achieve. After all, if there is huge controversy, it will get their message played a lot more on all media, and they get a claim, that so far as I'm aware isn't true, about Conservative policy spread - because it's hard to do 2 things at once in the media.

Labour's campaign has been pretty solidly negative. While I'm always prepared to believe cock-up before conspiracy, Labour's leadership do have a solid record in recent years of media dirty-trickery, deployed against opponents both inside and outside the party...

On balance, I think I'll go for cock-up.

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Silver badge

Good

It is seriously time that people notice just how distasteful and privacy-violating targeted marketing can be.

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Flame

I go junk mail...

...from a political party. I have my name excluded from the version of the electoral roll that for sale. So how did this political party get the hold of my details? What makes them think that I will vote from a party that clearly does not respect privacy or the desire to not receive any junk mail?

If I could figure out where to being, I'd lodge a complaint about it. By my understanding they have abused their position.

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Anonymous Coward

Probably from

somewhere else, where you have, or have not, ticked a box. A political party should not be able to get hold of the full list. It is held by the local electoral roll officers who are very protective of the full list.

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FAIL

According to my ancedotal evidence your misinformed

I just registered for the electorial register in my area last week, I stated I didn't want to be on the general list. Today I got mail from the Liberal Democrats and Conservative Party. I'm pretty certain the address came from my local electorial register because they appear to have made a cock up with my name (middle initial is wrong) on my voter card and the same mistake was made on the tory and lib dem junk mail.

Honestly I don't think anything is above the major parties.

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Misunderstanding over the use of the electoral register?

The clue to the list just happens to be in the title. Its the ELECTORAL Register.

It is compiled to allow individuals to vote and, when last i looked, parties were allowed access to it in order to do a range ofthings that they need to do at election time. Not just the obvious, such as canvas or send out communications - but also to check for fraud, get in nomination papers, etc.

Controversy arose over the fact that marketers were making use of this list for marketing purposes - and hence the (now) two-tier system, which created one copy of the register for bona fide electoral purposes and a truncated version for marketing.

Whilst I'd have a go at political parties for many abuses of data, i think having a go at them for using the electoral register for electoral purposes is a tad rich!

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Anonymous Coward

The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

Hospital Episode Statistics (http://www.hesonline.nhs.uk/Ease/servlet/ContentServer?siteID=1937&categoryID=889) ftw.

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Request a tailor-made report?

Most of the data I could see on that site were presented as aggregate tables, so no names or post codes. But I wonder what the "sensitive data" are, and what qualifies for "special approval" for the "Bespoke Approved Extracts"?

From that site, under the heading 'Request a tailor-made report':

"Service Level 2 - Bespoke Anonymised Extracts

An extract contains record-level data for selected cases, showing selected information for each case. If you need many pieces of information, you may be better off with an extract. These are priced on a per extract basis, in line with our pricing structure and may be subject to an additional licence fee charge, dependent upon how you want to use the information.

Service Level 3 - Bespoke Approved Extracts

An extract as above but which contains sensitive data fields and for which you will need special approval. Once again, these are priced on a per extract basis, in line with our pricing structure and may be subject to an additional licence fee charge, dependent upon how you want to use the information."

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Really? You expect the truth?

ZaNuLiebore, living up to the name, have tried to be very precise with the words they use while attempting to give an impression that does not match the actual words; examples are the use of 'net migration' when trying to give the impression they've reduced immigration, or talking about reducing the 'deficit' and hoping people think they're talking about reducing the massive amount of debt.

In like manner I wonder if:

- 'privileged government information' might mean that the information was not privileged for some reason, or was not specifically held by the government itself;

- 'to target voters for electoral gain' might mean targeting voters for something other than electoral gain, for instance if these voters might have ticked a box on some form to say they did want to receive information concerning cancer.

Did you really expect them to say "We had a list of people who were interested in cancer for some reason - don't ask us where we got it - so we thought we'd put the frighteners on them"?

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Bronze badge

I hear you typically only get post if you're in a marginal constituency.

That's what someone said on Radio 4 anyway. Otherwise you're not worth chasing for your vote.

This targeting and discrimination that you worry about - I suppose it can be illegal in sales and contracts, but surely there isn't such a restriction on advertising - otherwise you couldn't place an advert in women's magazines because it would not be seen by men, as only one example.

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