There was outrage last year among Labour members and supporters when Labour HQ trawled – by its own admission – through members’ social media feeds looking for reasons to suspend and in some cases even expel members.
Much of the outrage was driven by the fact that only pro-Corbyn members seemed to incur any action – and fuelled by the fact that members considered this behaviour a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA), since they had not given Labour’s bureaucracy permission to use their data in any such way.
And a court upheld that opinion:
Now Labour General Secretary Ian McNicol has issued new guidance to Labour staff on their obligations under the DPA, severely limiting their future behaviour.
That guidance is below as a series of images, but it relates to data that is perceived under law as private – social media posts.
While these may be of a public nature, the data they contain actually belongs to the poster and as such, under ICO definitions. it cannot be legitimately accessed for the purposes of Labour’s Compliance Unit the posts for excuses to suspend or expel members and supporters.
So many complained to the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) that the ICO has told Labour HQ staff that it has its eye on them, so they have to be careful to follow the law.
According to the exact wording McNicol used to ban people via Appendix 2.1.b.x of the party rulebook, which is imposed retrospectively by them, most of these bans do not stand up to any kind of scrutiny or challenge, leaving the Party wide open to legal action by any of those affected that has the funds and appetite for it.
This is hugely significant for the Labour Party going forward, as it means that Labour HQ can no longer legally trawl social media for evidence to disenfranchise members and supporters.
This will come as a relief to any who have been curtailing their social media discussions out of fear of subsequent suspension in a future purge. These new rules from McNicol mean CLPs & the Compliance Unit/Legal cannot use social media posts unless the poster has specifically authorised the Labour Party to do so.
However, if you think this may apply to you, check whether you might inadvertently have given the Party your social media details by default, as this may mean the Party can trawl your accounts and use material posted against you. If you’re not sure, it will be worthwhile writing to McNicol withdrawing your permission for Labour to use your social media information – and even doing so as a precautionary measure to make sure that nothing slips through.
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