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Bradford Council made £33,000 from selling YOUR data

Bradford Council made £33,000 from selling YOUR data

Published by The Stray FM News Team at 6:34pm 8th August 2018.

Bradford Council has made over £33,000 in the past six years by selling data about the district’s residents.

Figures released through a Freedom of Information Request show that the authority has sold data to credit reference companies, insurance companies and individual buyers.

The law states that a list of electors – known as the open register – should be supplied to anyone willing to pay a fee, while some approved companies are allowed access to the more in-depth list, known as the “full register”.

A Freedom of Information Act submitted by the Local Democracy Reporter service asked West Yorkshire Councils how much they had made through selling data, and a breakdown of who had bought it each year from 2012/13 to 2017/18.

Companies that have bought Bradford’s electoral data each year include credit reporting Experian and data company CallCredit, both of which have spent almost £7,000 for the full electoral rolls for the Bradford District since 2012.

Other buyers include credit reference agency Aristotle International and an un-named individual, who purchased edited data on all but one of the years in question.

City Car Club, now owned by Enterprise, bought partial data in 2015/16. And Bingley Community Council Group – which went on to become Bingley Town Council, bought partial data in 2014/15.

A spokesman for Transunion (formerly Callcredit) said the information they buy is used by businesses checking the identity and address details of people who apply for their services, businesses selling age-restricted goods or services, such as alcohol and gambling online, debt-collection agencies when tracing people who have changed address without telling their creditors, landlords and letting agents when checking the identity of potential tenants, organisations tracing and identifying beneficiaries of wills, pensions and insurance policies and private-sector firms looking to verify details of job applicants.

The figures show that in the same time period, Leeds Council made £31,000 through selling data, Kirklees Council made £36,600 and Calderdale Council made £18,000.

The TransUnion spokesman said:

“Credit reference agencies like TransUnion use electoral register data for a variety of reasons.

“CRAs hold personal data that can be used to identify people, like their name, date of birth, and current and previous addresses. One source of data that helps us in generating and checking this information is the electoral register.

“We aggregate electoral register data from all the councils across the country (including West Yorkshire). Our clients, such as banks and building societies, can then use the data to help fight identity fraud and confirm a person is who they say they are.”

Another group that purchased data, Equiniti, said:

We are able to use the Electoral Roll data in line with the statutory parameters, as we are a Credit Reference Agency authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority.”

An Experian Spokesperson added: 

“The information we use from the electoral roll is vital for people to access everyday services. We use it to help companies verify people’s identities and confirm they live where they say they do. In turn, companies can seamlessly provide people with mobile phone contracts, insurance and accountancy services, or approve mortgage applications.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said:

“Two versions of the electoral register are produced. The full electoral register lists the names and addresses of everyone who is registered to vote in public elections.  It is also used for other limited purposes specified in law.

“The open register is an extract of the electoral register. It can be bought by any person, company or organisation. Electors can choose to opt-out of the open register. 

“The Electoral Registration Officer is required, by law, to sell copies of the full register to specified individuals and organisations prescribed in legislation, on payment of the prescribed fee."

By Chris Young, Local Democracy Reporter

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