NEWS7 May 2014

MRS warns political parties over pre-election ‘surveys’

Government News UK

UK — Market Research Society CEO Jane Frost has written to the main UK political parties, warning them to avoid misleading ‘surveys’ in the run-up to the European and local elections.


In her letter, published in full here, Frost outlined a number of steps parties should take to avoid confusing the public, “and to maintain the reputation of essential research activities”.

Specifically, Frost said that questionnaires “should clearly state at the outset all the purposes for which data is being collected, the identity of the data controller responsible, and whether any disclosures to third parties will be made”.

In addition, she said: “The words “research” or “survey” should only be used where data is being collected for genuine research purposes.”

The letter follows a recent complaint made by the MRS about a Conservative Party survey, called “What matters most to you?”, which asked respondents to rate the importance of a number of issues facing the country, but also required them to provide their email addresses and postcodes – with a view to building a contact database, the MRS alleged.

MRS reported the issue to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), which confirmed in a letter last week that the survey had failed to follow the ICO’s good practice guidelines. However, following subsequent changes to wording, the ICO decided to take no further action.

The ICO has also written to political parties, warning them to adhere to data protection and electronic marketing rules in the run-up to elections on 22 May.



10 years ago

A very good letter. It would be nice if the media, particularly TV also took note!

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10 years ago

It's a free country you can ask a question about what you like and if you ask someone for their e-mail and they freely give it to you I can't see the problem. One major problem with our industry - too many guidelines, too many people with too many rule books, with too much time on their hands. Meanwhile advertising agencies, consultancies, and every other Johnny-come-lately has moved on to our territory.

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