TRAWLING SOCIAL MEDIA TO SUSPEND MEMBERS
The Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA) is an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland which defines UK law on the processing of data on identifiable living people.
It is the main piece of legislation that governs the protection of personal data in the UK. It all sounds quite simple doesn’t it … anyone who processes personal data about you, your name, address, telephone number, email address, is considered to be a data controller and has certain responsibilities to fulfil within the provisions of that act.
The Labour Party is a data controller.
Now when you signed up to become a member of the Labour Party, do you remember giving your express permission for the Party to trawl your social media accounts and use any information obtained from those accounts to suspend you …? Of course you don’t because you weren’t asked to give your permission and therein lies the problem (not for you, but for Mr McNicol).
You see political opinions are considered to be private data, but when you post it on social media … well it’s out there isn’t it (depending on your privacy settings of course). However, because you were not asked to give your permission for that information to be used to potentially suspend you, that is a breach of the data protection act.
You should have been told, you weren’t – so DPA fail for Mr McNicol and the NEC. So effectively, the harvesting, trawls, whatever you wish to call it was illegal and so the subsequent use of illegally obtained information to suspend you is null and void.
For Mr McNicol and the NEC it’s a case of game over, access denied.
As if that wasn’t bad enough it appears that certain members of the NEC were taking home spreadsheets with members details in order to carry out their trawling activities … Let’s look at what the DPA has to say about that shall we:
Your security measures must be appropriate to your business practices. For example, if you have staff who work from home, you should put measures in place to ensure that this does not compromise security. The measures you take must be appropriate to the nature of the personal data you hold and to the harm that could result from a security breach.
Did you agree when you signed up for membership for your social media details to be taken to the home of a NEC member in order that she could trawl your social media posts and then suspend you? I’ll make it easy for you … the answer to that question is a big fat NO! My suspicion is that either the Labour compliance unit or an outside group (Progress, Saving Labour, Labour Tomorrow) are running automated search processes against key words.
Once they find some they refer to compliance who check it then pass over to NEC in Compliance Unit (3 people basically) and then McNicol suspends.
According to Christine Shawcroft on her Facebook feed in September 11,250 complaints were received and 3963 people were suspended or excluded. That seems quite high for just members reporting on each other. A key question is where these complaints came from? All from different individuals or were certain people/groups generating a large number of complaints?
If Progress et al is trawling how are they able to match social media accounts against Labour members? Do they have access to the party data base of members details? If so that would be in breach of the DPA unless a contract exists, if it does then why and for what? If not, by processing and sharing personal data, Progress et al are committing criminal offences under DPA.
The data used to suspend you was gathered from Social Media and combined with personal data in control of Labour data controller thus was personal data under S.1(1) DPA and subject to data protection principles. Labour breached a number of these principles and made the discretionary decisions to suspend you on the basis of data it illegally processed under DPA.
The NEC took into account something it ought not to have taken account of – and its decision was therefore unreasonable in law and is ultra vire (outside their power).
NATURAL JUSTICE for Labour Party Complaints Procedure
petition` LINK BELOW is a statement that you too might like to sign:
We the undersigned are dismayed by the actions of Iain McNicol in his role as General Secretary and the manner in which the administration of the Labour Party has been used to suspend or expel thousands of members.
The NEC has fallen short in ensuring that any and all suspension and expulsions are carried out with respect for due process and natural justice.
We have been made aware of a list of tweets and posts supplied to NEC members and used to justify and rationalise the manner in which the Compliance Unit and the NEC panels conduct the disciplinary affairs of the Party.
We wish to make it clear that we condemn any process used by the Labour Party that is not in deference to due process and natural justice. Due process and natural justice MUST be the over-riding framework for all and any investigation. We hold the NEC and the General Secretary responsible for the way this large scale action is affecting thousands of our members.
Regardless of whether we personally, or collectively, condemn many, the majority, or all of the tweets and posts provided to the NEC members as a justification we wish to categorically state that we condemn the process that has been used to deal with the problem.
Mr McNicol cites the rule book and the right for the NEC to automatically suspend a person if they are bringing the Party into disrepute. Firstly to use this as a justification for immediately suspending members is an abuse of the trust given to the NEC to deal with any clear cut case that meets that criteria. It is obvious to the `man in the street` that the spirit of that option is given in good faith and trust to allow for instant action in exceptional cases. We consider that the Labour Party itself has been brought into disrepute by the use of this trust to suspend or expel FOUR THOUSAND members.
We have had brought to our attention dozens of cases of people being suspended or expelled for spurious reasons, for retweets or reposts which may show support for the sentiment of another Party on for example, green issues, or even to express displeasure of the sentiment (for example UKIP tweets and posts). Equally we have examples of people whose health and wellbeing is affected to the extent they have taken the decision to resign from the Labour Party because the stress of the long drawn out process is aggravating their condition. We condemn the use of instant administrative suspensions by the Labour Party.
There are many issues related to this debacle: the lack of due process; the lack of natural justice; the issue of data protection violations. Just one case where any single of these is lacking is sufficient to bring the whole system into question.
Further, we have been told that the NEC considers that `this should never happen again`. INDEED. To that end we wish to make it clear that we expect an open and transparent investigation to look at how this came about, how it is allowed to continue and what went wrong.
We are very concerned, dismayed, that such trust given to the General Secretary to apply instant suspension or expulsion has been applied to justify the expulsion or suspension of 4,000 members. We therefore also consider that Chapter 6 of the rule book is completely overhauled to reflect the members disquiet on what we consider to be an abuse of this trust.
We demand that the Labour Party now constructs a transparent, clear process of dealing with any cases of discipline. We must have a new system that has at its very foundation: Natural Justice.
PETITION/STATEMENT CLICK HERE: https://www.gopetition.com/petitions/demand-for-natural-justice-used-for-labour-party-complaints-procedures.html