The Mail is having a go at junk mail again. This time they've obtained figures that show that
local authorities have made £3 million in the past five years by passing on information from the electoral role. Apparently,
more than 20 million of us have had our name and address sold.
The Representation of the People Regulations forces local authorities to sell a copy of the edited register to any person happy to pay a fee of £21.50 for 1,000 names and addresses (see item 110, Sale of edited register). In other words, if your local council sells your name and address they get £0.0215. And no, that's not deducted from your Council Tax Bill; they're selling your data below cost price, as a subsidy to the junk mail industry and 'people finding services' such as 192.com.
If the Mail's figures are correct we can calculate that in the last five years local councils have sold the personal details of nearly 140 million people:
£3,000,000 / (£21.50 / 1,000). Divide that figure by 5 and we have deduced that election administrators are selling nearly 28 million names and address per year. Which is 8 million above the Daily Mail's estimate of 20m.
As per usual, the Mail's figures don't quite add up. If anything, the Mail's numbers defy common sense…
Let's have a second look at the figure of 20m. We know that there are roughly 45 million registered voters and that about 40% of them are opted out of being on the edited register. That means there are some 27 million names and addresses on the edited register. If the Mail's figures are correct the average council sells less than a single copy of the edited register per year! That's certainly false; there are plenty of list brokers that buy a full copy of the edited roll from each and every local authority in the country.
PS - If you want some more useful information about the edited register, including information about how to opt out of being on the roll indefinitely, you should read the Guide to Stamping Out Junk Mail!