The Sale of Edited Electoral Registers in Scotland: Implications for Privacy, Data Protection and Citizenship



Leleux C & Webster CWR (2016) The Sale of Edited Electoral Registers in Scotland: Implications for Privacy, Data Protection and Citizenship. Scottish Affairs, 25 (4), pp. 479-505.

This article provides an assessment of the recent phenomenon in Scotland and the United Kingdom of selling edited electoral registers to third parties, and reflects on the implications of this practice for privacy, data protection and citizen-state relations. Drawing on the results of the National Survey of Electoral Registration Officers in Scotland, information is presented on the sale of edited registers, the types of organisation purchasing registers, revenues generated and the number of electors ‘opting out’ of the edited register. This is the first time such information has been collected nationally and therefore represents a unique Scottish ‘snapshot’. The article argues that the sale of edited registers is contentious. The collection of personal information contained within the register is critical for the successful functioning of elections and consequently our representative democratic system, yet the subsequent unrestricted sale of this information for commercial gain potentially undermines trust in democratic processes and alters the informational nature of citizen-state relations. This article offers a first opportunity to reflect on some of the consequences of this practice.

Electoral Registration Officers (EROs); National Survey of Scotland’s Electoral Registration Officers; electoral registers; citizenship; privacy; data protection

Scottish Affairs: Volume 25, Issue 4

Publication date30/11/2016
Publication date online10/2016
Date accepted by journal15/03/2016
PublisherEdinburgh University Press

People (1)


Professor William Webster

Professor William Webster

Personal Chair, Management, Work and Organisation