On Wednesday, the SKWAWKBOX published an analysis of Labour’s latest social media policy, highlighting both the unarguable validity of its principles and the serious concerns about how it will be applied.
At the beginning of this month, the SKWAWKBOX revealed that Labour’s General Secretary Iain McNicol had issued guidance to staff and officers indicating that trawling Labour members’ social media feeds for disciplinary purposes constitutes a breach of the DPA (Data Protection Act) because, as a ‘Data Controller’ under the Act, it does not have permission from the members to use their data for that purpose.
So the obvious question is this: How will Labour enforce its policy?
Even if we assume that Labour’s largely right-leaning HQ will apply the policy fairly, how can it discipline a member for something said on social media if it can’t legally use what members say on social media?
So we asked Labour how it planned to do it – sending this email to Labour’s press office:
The response, when it finally came, was so non-responsive to the question asked that we had to read it twice:
The Labour Party’s rules and procedures are compliant with all areas of UK law, including the Data Protection Act.
Not a word about ‘how’. So we wrote back:
Nothing, for almost 24 hours – until we called the press office again to be told:
We won’t be making any further comment.
So there you have it. Labour cannot legally use members’ social media feeds to enforce its social media policy without specific permission from members to do so – which it does not have. The party says it will comply with all law including the DPA – which should mean no repeat of the ‘trawling’ of social media feeds that it used last year to suspend or expel huge numbers of members – and was put under observation by the Information Commissioner’s Office for doing so:
A social media policy when you can’t legitimately use social media feeds for enforcement is severely problematic.
But Labour’s bureaucracy will not tell its members how it plans to solve this conundrum, leaving them to conduct their social media interactions with no clarity.
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