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Victory for privacy ticks the right box

Press release   •   Apr 09, 2014 16:56 BST

Rochdale Borough Council has successfully protected the privacy of its residents after a legal challenge from the company behind the directory enquiries website Limited objected to the ‘pre-ticking’ of annual electoral registration canvass forms where electors had previously indicated they did not want their details included in the edited version of the register.

Deputy Chief Executive, Linda Fisher said: "We take the privacy of our electors very seriously. Our view is that if people have previously told us they do not want their details to be for sale, it is our duty to reflect that. There was an important principle at stake here and by working together we have defended it.”

There are two versions of the Electoral Register. The ‘full’ version is used for elections and other limited purposes such as credit checks, while the ‘edited’ version can be used for any purpose and by law must be made available for general sale.

Companies such as have a commercial interest in ensuring that as few people as possible opt out from the edited register because they use the information on their sites.

Towards the end of 2012, threatened Electoral Registration Officers with judicial review proceedings if they did not sign an undertaking promising not to ‘pre-tick’ canvass forms, meaning people who had previously opted out would have to remember to tick the box again in order to continue to have their choice respected.

When 27 Electoral Registration Officers refused to sign this undertaking, issued a judicial review claim on 24 January last year.

Twelve of the Electoral Registration Officers agreed to sign the undertaking but the 15 who continued to refuse mounted a common defence. The hearing was listed at the High Court for March 2014 but discontinued their claim and legal costs were awarded to the group of defendant Electoral Registration Officers.

For more information about the upcoming elections and to register to vote, visit

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