I was sent the following email during the recent Norwich South selection.
Isn’t Data Protection a wonderful thing? The way it’s supposed to prevent important personal information from falling into the wrong hands, for instance. It’s rather ironic then, isn’t it, that New Labour were so appallingly lax during their time in office as to leave the digital backdoor open wide to identity thieves, fraudsters, vindictive ex-partners, fanatics, family members, neighbours, work colleagues or anyone with a personal grudge- as well as eagerly welcoming in private companies to data mine information on its own citizens. This was a crass invasion of privacy, totally at odds with European and International human rights, but New Labour and the unelected mandarins tucked away in Whitehall seemed to think that they knew better, and that these piffling rights didn’t apply. If any MPs had pangs of conscience about this, just set up the three line whip and thrash it out of their system!
So it gives us great pleasure to announce that we have been provided with some misplaced CVs pertaining to all of the applicants standing for election as a Norwich South New Labour candidate. Whoops-a-daisy! Some butter-fingered intern’s going to get their plump, fresh, young knuckles rapped! We’re not going to disclose their identity though, as the point is not about apportioning the blame to some poor, inexperienced sacrificial lamb and sweeping the real issue under the carpet. No. This was not a leak, the information was left on top of a bin in the centre of Norwich and found by one of our curious associates who handed it to us. The real issue is, of course, the glaringly gaping holes in the Data Protection Act that allow this to so often and easily occur, and the various protocols and regulations that should be in place in government and in business, but are sadly not.
[… continues for a long, long time, but you get the idea.]
The Electric Heretics & Now or Never! Magazine
When you apply for a seat, as with any job, you send in a CV. These are sent out to all the local members (500 in this case), and someone had clearly left them in a bin. The groups concerned had found them, and obviously thought they had stumbled onto something big. They wrote us all these angular, vaguely threatening emails, gloating over finding my ‘private’ information, including my email addresses, home address, and phone number.
This was my reply:
Dear EH & NoN,
Thank you very much for getting in touch.
I agree with much of what you say about privacy. You may know that I’m a member of the Advisory Council of the Open Rights Group, and we have been campaigning about issues such as the ones you raise for many years now.
You can see our detailed policy positions on these issues at our website:
Regarding my personal details, they are not as secret as you imagine. Candidates for public office must put a contact address on any literature they send out, and their home address is printed on the ballot paper.
My personal email addresses are available on my websites www.nanomation.co.uk (pretty much a dead website these days), and www.davidrowntree.org, and I encourage people to get in touch with me using them to discuss political issues.
Finally, I have had the same mobile number for at least 15 years. If you google me, you can find it quite easily.
If you want to meet up to chat about this stuff, I’d be quite happy to do so. I’m in Norwich for at least the next two weeks…
Thanks again for getting in touch.
With kind regards,
Rather disappointingly, I didn’t hear from them again.