Labour Future, in spite of its name, has no formal standing with the Labour Party – it is a limited company found by millionaire John Mills, which has links to right-wing groups Business for Britain and The Taxpayers’ Alliance.
Last month, the SKWAWKBOX revealed a fundraising email sent out by the company that many Labour members and supporters had believed was from the Labour Party – leading them to donate to it.
Now another email has been sent – and has fooled some Labour members into disclosing sensitive information.
The email – again using the Labour Future logo that is similar to the Labour Party’s and using language about the party rather than about the company, even to the extent of claiming ‘we will deliver a Labour government‘ – asks its recipients to register to volunteer with the organisation:
Note that the last line states that the email is created by ‘NationBuilder‘ – we’ll come back to that shortly.
Clicking on the link in the email – the facsimile on this page is not active – reveals a questionnaire with, importantly, links to add email addresses and to sign in using social media credentials:
The sign-up page – now archived on Wayback Machine – also requires full name, address and contact number details and asks registrants to ‘like’ on social media ‘to encourage [their] friends to join’.
But there is a serious danger in this. As the SKWAWKBOX has revealed, NationBuilder – which is also used by the Labour Party and other political parties – has advanced ‘data-scraping‘ capabilities that allow organisations to link users, emails and social media accounts, even if the social media accounts are anonymous.
In some cases, the software can even identify accounts that have not been provided, if enough other information is gathered.
It is highly doubtful that organisations in the UK can use those capabilities fully without falling foul of the Data Protection Act (DPA) – but there are already fears that the Labour Party’s HQ is doing so in order to use social media comments against Labour members even when made from anonymous accounts.
Bad enough when it’s the Labour Party itself – but most respondents would probably be unhappy to discover they’re making their privacy vulnerable to a private company with links to right-wing organisations.
The sign-up page also uses four logos at its foot, under the title ‘Coalitions for Change’, as if there is a collaboration among the groups in question:
Given the diametric opposition of Momentum and Progress, it seems unlikely that there is a co-operation among the four groups shown, including or excluding Labour Future – but the SKWAWKBOX will be contacting all four groups to ask whether they have given permission for their logos to be used.
The lesson is simple: do not click any links in any Labour Future emails or respond in any other way – and set your email software to divert them straight to your junk folder. If you want to donate to the Labour cause, donate via the official party site and be extremely careful about the provenance of any emails.
Of course, if you want to donate to the SKWAWKBOX it will be most welcome – but we are not claiming to be the Labour Party!
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