McNicol’s new DPA guide shows Lab HQ can’t legally use social media to suspend

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:

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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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  1. Does this mean those suspended can be reinstated (that’s if they want to after what happened)? I hope so. IMO the NEC should contact them all, apologising and offering reinstatement at no cost.

  2. Very interesting. In my letter withdrawing my suspension they state that it will be kept on file and may form evidence for any future action. I would suggest that everyone affected niw demand that all record of such suspension be deleted from their personal files and that if it isn’t done, legal action would follow.

  3. McNicol & Tom Watson will still use dirty tricks to try and pull the Labour Party to the right. They will still snoop on social media. A snake will always be a snake.

    1. Exactly, there is a treacherous core in the party bureaucracy and PLP that will never give an inch that isn’t ripped from their claws. Trawling social media for a pretext to disenfranchise Jeremy’s supporters is merely one symptom of this.

      The NCC vote this time will be crucial. Control of the NCC is a big part of how this treacherous core is able to keep a lid on their past – and ongoing – misconduct.

      A crowdfunded whistblower reward for information on misconduct by Labour party officials, staff or MPs, especially during the leadership challenge, is long overdue.

      Something like this, but open to contributions from Jeremy’s supporters: https://wikileaks.org/WikiLeaks-offers-award-for-LabourLeaks.html

  4. Have party officials who have so publicly breached the provisions of the DPA brought the party into disrepute?

  5. I don’t expect an apology for my suspension for “Comments on Social Media” my son trawled my Twitter and Facebook pages which include membership of several socialist groups including “Corbyn Over 50+ supporters group which has 13,000 members, He couldn’t find anything that would be thought of as against party rules, I have in the past supported Palestine on line but with respect and not in any way anti semitic, I have been warned about my future conduct but yet to have clarification of what I actually did or say even after asking for that to be explained, I actually don’t want this act of voter suppression to go away as it is a serious breach of my rights but Labour seem to be ignoring peoples correspondence.

  6. ‘writing to McNicol withdrawing your permission’ – having had several experiences of writing to him in recent years without once having even an acknowledgement of receipt never mind a reply I say don’t count on it – your letter won’t get past the outer office.

    1. The main thing is to provably send – gaining a reciept – a dated and timed letter/email to the central address from which the Labour Party operates.. and carefully keep a copy of the letter and its dating and timing. At that point they would have been ‘informed’, whether or not they acknowledge it. (unless anyone knows better?)

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