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21 December 2015

The Telegraph is fined £30,000 for urging subscribers to vote Conservative

The Information Commissioner's Office has found that the Telegraph Media Group breached marketing regulations by promoting the Tory campaign.

By media mole

The Telegraph Media Group has been fined £30,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office after it emailed hundreds of thousands of readers on election day urging them to vote Conservative.

According to the ICO website, the paper “broke the rules around direct marketing” by promoting the Conservative campaign.

Under the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR), people have specific privacy rights when it comes to electronic communications, including emails and texts.

The email, sent to people who had signed up to receive a newsletter from the Telegraph, included a letter from Daily Telegraph editor Chris Evans. It described the election as the “most important since 1979”, adding that “the Daily Telegraph urges its readers to vote Conservative”.

None of the subscribers, however, had given specific consent to receive that kind of marketing – a requirement under the PECR.

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Steve Eckersley, the ICO head of enforcement, called the Telegraph’s behaviour “negligent”.

“People may well perceive the paper’s editorial content to have a political bias, but when The Telegraph emailed people directly, calling for them to vote for a political party, they crossed a line.”

The ICO noted that the letter was only added to the bulletin last-minute, and the time pressure meant “there was not enough time to properly consider whether the appropriate permissions were in place”.

Fines paid to the ICO are passed on to the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund (which consolidates government income, including taxes).