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How to stop EU referendum junk mail

26th March 2016

With just under three months to go until the EU 'In/Out' referendum you can expect lots of junk mail from the Leave.EU, Vote Leave and Stronger In campaigns. If you have no need for their propaganda you can stop them from targeting you.

As always, we need to make a distinction between addressed and unaddressed junk mail. Any unaddressed items from the campaigns is likely to be distributed via the Royal Mail. These items can be stopped by registering with the company's opt-out scheme for unaddressed, unsolicited leaflets: the Door-to-Door Opt-Out. In the unlikely event that they got volunteers delivering leaflets you're screwed: such leaflets are unregulated and people who deliver political leaflets usually ignore any type of anti-junk mail sign (because they feel they're a vital part of the democratic process).

Addressed junk mail can be stopped with a data protection notice. Section 11 of the Data Protection Act 1998 gives you the right to demand that an organisation stops processing your personal details for "direct marketing" purposes (and contrary to what the above-mentioned leaflet deliverers think, political junk mail is "direct marketing"). Sending data protection notices is a bit of a hassle but it's effective, and to make the job a little easier I've prepared a notice for the Leave.EU, Vote Leave and Stronger In campaigns for you.

The best way to send your notice is via e-mail. It saves you the cost of a stamp and you'll automatically have proof of posting – you might need the latter should your notice be ignored. The e-mail addresses you need are:

You can then grab the plain text version of the notice letters:

You can cut and paste the first paragraph ("Notice under…") into the subject field. The rest of the text is the body of your e-mail. Don't forget to insert your full name and address in the paragraph under "Dear Sir or Madam".

Using snail mail

If you prefer to print a notice letter and send it via snail mail you can download the ODT version of the notice letters:

Again, make sure you insert your name and address. In addition, you'll have to enter the date you'll be posting the letter.

After you sent your notices

Data protection notices are a very effective way of stopping addressed junk mail – but only if you're organised. At a minimum, keep a copy of your e-mail or, if you're using snail mail, keep a copy of your notice letter and get a certificate of posting from the Post Office. Without this you won't be able to enforce your rights should the junk mail continue.

You should also make sure that the junk mailer acknowledges your notice. If the sender fails to do so within a week you should start chasing them. If they ignore your chase e-mails / letters, keep chasing them (every couple of days). And, keep a copy of your chase e-mails / letters – they'll come in handy should the issue escalate.

As said, data protection notices are legally binding. If the sender continues to target you with (addressed) junk mail after 28 days you can enforce your rights by lodging a complaint with the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO). Unfortunately, the ICO demands that you first try to resolve the issue informally – unless you've done so they won't deal with your complaint. If you haven't received an acknowledgement from the sender despite chasing them you can lodge a complaint straight away (as you've already tried communicating with them). However, if the sender has acknowledged your notice you'll have to remind them that they shouldn't be processing your personal details for junk mail purposes.

Last updated: 
31st March 2016


Political parties, and presumably the official 'in' and 'out' campaign groups, are entitled to use the full version of the electoral register for electoral purposes. This includes using the electoral register as a junk mail list. (Strictly speaking, there's no definition of what are and aren't electoral purposes but our political masters agree that it's absolutely fine for them to send you junk mail. So really, the reason is that's there's one rule for them, and one rule for us.)

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