The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) has warned the UK's political parties to ensure they abide by data protection and privacy rules ahead of an intense period of political campaigning throughout April.
Political parties are set to begin canvassing voters on both a referendum on changes to the electoral voting system and local elections across the UK, for public bodies including the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh Assembly and the Northern Ireland Assembly, all to be held on 5 May.
As such, the ICO is encouraging political campaigners to read its latest guidance, which outlines the legal requirements they must follow when using direct mail, emails, text messages, phone canvassing and automated phone calls.
The guidance also offers clarity on where campaigners need to obtain consent before contacting individuals, as well all other relevant legal requirements to which campaigners must adhere in order to stay within the law.
For example, any email or text message contact requires prior consent.
Information commissioner Christopher Graham said political parties must ensure that they do not abuse the power that modern technology offers, and warned them that the ICO will be keeping a close eye on their behaviour.
"Modern election campaigns make use of modern communications channels, but this does not mean that campaigners can forget their legal responsibilities to respect people's privacy rights," he said.
"We will be monitoring the activities of campaigners to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements and that everybody plays by the rules."
The ICO has previously taken action against the Conservatives, Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party for breaching the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations after they contacted individuals without their consent.
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