Privacy fears over electoral details

Ian Penman is concerned about protecting privacy.
Ian Penman is concerned about protecting privacy.
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PRIVACY concerns have been raised after a Wearsider discovered his details listed on the internet.

Ian Penman found himself on the website www.192.com, which he believes happened after filling out his voter registration form, a statutory document sent to every household every year to keep the electoral register updated.

Now the freelance journalist, of Croft Avenue, Millfield, wants to warn other Sunderland residents that the same thing could have happened to them.

He said: “When I got the forms I read the front before filling them out, and like most people assumed that the important stuff was on the front.

“But there’s a box at on the far right of the form which reads, ‘If you do not wish to appear on the edited register then tick here.’ But it’s not very prominent.

“I think it could be made a lot clearer, and the differences between the electoral role and the register should be laid out more clearly.

“I contacted the website who have taken my details down, but it took them three of four weeks.”

He added: “What residents may be unaware of is that the council is entitled to sell information included therein to third parties, as I discovered when I found my details on the 192 website.

“This can include phone numbers and could also include age, occupation, address and who else lives in the property, even if you’re ex-directory.

“I’m not saying that the council is wrong or that they’ve broken any laws because they haven’t, I just think this should be made more clear.

“Tick this box if you value your privacy.”

Sunderland Council said voter registration forms include guidance notes to help people complete them correctly.

Chief executive and elections returning officer Dave Smith said: “Guidance includes details of how if you tick the edited register box on the voter registration form, your name and address will only appear on the full register, the details of which are used for elections, referendums and certain other purposes outlined by the Electoral Commission.

“There are also details of how if you choose not to tick the edited register box on the voter registration form, your name and address will also appear on the edited version of the register, which is in the public domain and available for general sale.

“If people have forgotten to fill in this box and would like to do so, they can contact the city council’s electoral services office on 561 1144.

“For any further information please visit the Electoral Commission website on www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.”

Twitter: @sunderlandecho