Local election texts to be investigated

Sam Matthews

Reporter:

Sam Matthews

The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating whether a number of candidates in the recent local elections broke the law by how they contacted members of the public seeking votes.

The Data Protection Commissioner is investigating whether a number of candidates in the recent local elections broke the law by how they contacted members of the public seeking votes.

The Commissioner’s office has confirmed it received several complaints from people who recieved text messages or phone calls from certain election candidates. Prior to the elections, the Commissioner wrote to all political parties to warn them about unsolicited text messages, emails and phone calls, and about obtaining peoples’ personal data.

The letter warns candidates not to obtain or use information from third parties, and says that persons contacted should have given prior consent. Text messages sent must also have ‘opt-out’ clauses which allow recipients to stop receiving the messages.

“Be aware that should this office receive any complaints from members of the public that these criminal allegations will be investigated by this office and appropriate action will be taken. Where our investigations of any complaints received establish that offences have been committed, the offender may be

prosecuted and, if convicted in the District Court, may face penalties of up to €5,000 in respect of each separate offence,” read the letter from Data Protection Commissioner Billy Hawkes.