Better Together announces plans to target Scots in cold-calling move

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  By a Newsnet reporter
 
The anti-independence campaign Better Together has announced plans to cold-call people in Scotland in a controversial move aimed at garnering support for a No vote in next year’s independence referendum.
 
A recruitment drive, using social media and Youtube, has been launched in an attempt at recruiting volunteers who are to be given the private details of members of the public, including names and addresses, and who will then be expected to canvass them for support.

Dubbed ‘Blether Together’, information gleaned by the calls is to be stored on the Better Together campaign database and is also passed on to the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservative Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats.

Volunteers, who will be asked to make the telephone calls from their own home, are warned that they risk breaking data protection laws if they disclose any information to outside organisations.

The controversial tactic follows a similar move by the anti-independence group earlier this year when they sent unsolicited text messages to mobile phones.

Mobile phone users received text messages urging them to respond by tapping a link on their screens.  However the move angered many who demanded to know how the campaign group obtained their personal details, including names.

The latest move is embarrassing for Labour and the Lib Dems, after members of both parties launched campaigns against the sending of unsolicited text messages and cold-calling.

In March this year, Labour MSP Mary Fee called for an end to: “…the nuisance and misery of unwanted marketing calls and texts,”
 
She added: “It is astonishing that 7 in 10 people in the UK have received nuisance calls from claim management companies within the last three months and I fully support Which? in their campaign to end the harassing phone calls and texts.”

On the Scottish Lib Dems website a party campaign urges an end to “the plague of nuisance calls” and calls on the government to take action.

Lib Dem MP Mike Crockart said: “I am fed up of nuisance calls to my landline and mobile as well as unsolicited texts.  People shouldn’t have to put up with this menace which puts many vulnerable and elderly people at risk of fraud just as much as if the crook or pushy salesman was turning up at their door.
 
“I am calling for the Information Commissioner’s powers to be strengthened to take in all forms of unsolicited contact and for there to be a single, simple point of contact for any individual wishing to protect their privacy from unwanted calls, texts, faxes and emails.”