SNP faces fines for data breach following election mailshot to the wrong recipients
The Scottish National Party (SMP) is facing being fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for breaching data protection laws. Tens of thousands of European election letters were sent to the wrong people.
The SNP has notified the ICO that voters across Scotland received letters addressed to neighbours and complete strangers.
The election letters, signed by SNP leader, Nicola Sturgeon, urges voters to back the party on 23 May. One woman in the Berwickshire constituency received 30 letters, all addressed to people who didn’t live at her address.
A spokesperson at the ICO said:
We have been made aware by the Scottish National party of an incident relating to election materials and will be making inquiries.
The SNP acknowledged the letters were sent in error. However, it glossed over the significance of the data breach, saying:
On Thursday, mail arrived with some electors that had the wrong addressee name on the letter. A clerical error has been identified in our office. We have been in touch with the ICO, but there is no ongoing issue with the integrity and security of data or any issue of identity theft,
SNP faces fines
The ICO confirmed that an investigation was underway, with stricter EU data protection regulations carrying significant fines for privacy breaches.
It seems the error was discovered last Thursday morning while Nicola Sturgeon was preparing for first minister’s questions, where she goaded the Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, concerning a Tory election leaflet which referred 15 times to Scottish independence, but failed to mention Europe.
Scottish Lim Dems leader Willie Rennie posted a picture of a letter addressed to “Edna Rennie” on Twitter. He said: “I will insist that Nicola Sturgeon addresses me as Edna in the Scottish Parliament.
Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser said:
This wasn’t just inconvenient and confusing for tens of thousands of householders. It’s a very serious data breach, and one that could land the party in all kinds of trouble.
Meanwhile, Labour MSP Neil Findlay said:
This is an embarrassing blunder from the SNP. No wonder our public services are in such a mess when they can’t even post a letter properly. …This incident may have resulted in individuals’ personal data being passed on to strangers.
A spokeman for the SNP said the party wished to apologise to affected voters.
Sources: The Scotsman,