By G.A.Ponsonby
Pro-Union campaign group Better Together is facing accusations that it has acquired personal information of mobile phone users against their knowledge and is using it in order to promote anti-independence propaganda.
Newsnet Scotland has learned that mobile phone users throughout Scotland have today [Saturday] received unsolicited text messages from the No campaign asking them to text their support for Scotland remaining in the Union.

Some recipients have reacted angrily after the message appeared with their first name and asked if they believed Scotland would be better off by remaining in the UK.

One angry recipient who declined to be named told Newsnet Scotland:

"I received the message just after twelve o’clock and was quite shocked to see they knew my name.

"I showed it to my husband who was not at all pleased.  Their poll was clearly biased as they only gave you the option to text if you supported their view, there was no text option if you didn’t agree with them.

"They also want to charge you to text them."

The recipient’s husband also described the message sent by the pro-Union campaign team as misleading and said it looked as though people were being asked to text if they wanted more information.

He added: "They gave a link for smartphone users which said it would give more info, but then said 'or text UKOK' which looked as though it was also just a way to get more info.

"People may have sent a text believing they were getting more info and instead have been logged as backers of No.  Worse, they will also have been charged so might have inadvertently helped fund Better Together."

The link offering smartphone users 'more info' takes those who click to a three question poll which offers three options, support for a No vote, support for a Yes vote and support one for don’t know.  Small text beneath the poll, warns the participant that they may be contacted by Better Together.

Newsnet Scotland has also discovered that anyone replying to the text message may have unwittingly given their permission for the No campaign, the Scottish Labour Party, Scottish Conservative Party and Scottish Liberal Democrats to process and use their personal data for campaign purposes.

Contacted By Newsnet Scotland for a statement, Better Together Director of Communications, Rob Shorthouse directed us to a blog posted on the campaign website.

However, despite being pressed, Mr Shorthouse has as yet refused to confirm whether Labour MP Alistair Darling, who heads the Better Together campaign, had sanctioned the sending of the unsolicited text message.

According to the Better Together campaign, the text messages were sent out on their behalf by an organisation called  This appears to be a subsidiary organisation of a company named The Data Agency Ltd who are based in South East London.

Better Together has claimed that all recipients of their text message have filled in a form consenting to such communication being sent to them.

On the campaign website it says: "If you have received a text message today it is because you have filled in a form in the past and ticked the option to allow you to be contacted by different companies and organisations."

However, at least one person who received the text has insisted that they have never filled in any such form.


# Barbazenzero 2013-04-27 15:34
It's outrageous that you have to pay in order to "opt out", but somehow I doubt that this will be headlined by the BBC or the MSM.

Have MSPs been contacted to bring up the subject at FMQs?
# Ysabelle 2013-04-27 15:42
Sadly, nothing surprises me anymore when it comes to the NO campaign. It would be interesting to know how they got the names and numbers though if some people don't recall signing a form. Exactly who is providing that information?
# Independista 2013-04-27 15:57
What next? Hack in to your bank account to make a donation to the No campaign?
I would not put it past them
# hiorta 2013-04-27 16:23
'Better together' could be more accurately named 'More of the Same' with no jobs, no oil, failing economy, and England giving the orders while pocketing your cash.
Queue here.
# Clarinda 2013-04-27 16:23
My daughter received this unsolicited text this lunchtime - and she can certainly state that she did not fill in any form in relation to this particular text messaging.

Cold calling and other irritating unsolicitated contacts are a modern scourge - however there are so many tick boxes to attend to when buying on line etc. it is sometimes difficult to be certain that all requests for follow up contacts are negated.
# ogan86 2013-04-27 16:26
I too received this text this morning and can confirm I have never filled in any forms related to Better Together.
# jdman 2013-04-27 16:38
If anyone who has received these messages is registered with telephone preference service, the better together camp have just broken the law and face penalties if the individuals concerned raise a complaint with TPS
I sincerely hope they do
# Rusty Shackleford 2013-04-27 16:44
You can report unsolicited SMS to your network as spam by forwarding them to the numbers below:

O2, Orange and T-mobile are 7726, Vodafone 87726 and Three 37726
# jdman 2013-04-27 16:56
just been on the better together website to kick up hell about their unbelievable arrogance at sending unsolicited texts to people who have no connection with them ,to point out that those texts sent to people registered with TPS amount to a breach of the telecommunicati ons act,
who quite justifiably ask who I am by asking me to enter my email address and password, but quite arrogantly assume anyone who wants to access their website is joining the better together campaign,
at which point I stopped access, as I don't want to inflate their membership numbers by simply logging in, so it appears they don't really want any dissent on their website, I wonder why?
# Arraniki 2013-04-27 17:09
How much of the £500,000 dodgy donation goes into funding an operation like this?

O/T Just noticed a poll in Scotland on Sunday
designed to promote Lamont as a credible candidate for FM. Results you would not believe.
Cast your vote here:
# balbeggie 2013-04-27 17:26
I would not bother, it is put up so you will go to their website. I did read about them fixing these polls so more people will visit their site to try and influence the numbers. The sole reason is to generate web traffic.
# Davy 2013-04-27 19:32
Good god, I cant stop laughing at that poll, even worse I cant stop laughing at the idea of Lamont being FM. Stop it I'm peeing myself.
# Sleekit 2013-04-28 09:08
Would that be this poll? Oddly it seemsto have had some strange midnight voting...
# uilleam_beag 2013-04-27 17:11
I just posted a short note on the No campaign's blog pointing out they bought the contact list. Let's see how long it remains there.
# Arraniki 2013-04-27 17:35
knowing The Scotsman's penchant for dissembling and distortion, I do not doubt your assertion. I stopped reading both papers years ago.

Simply annoys me.
# Jamie Black 2013-04-27 17:48
A lot of outrage here. Serious question. My understanding is that the Yes Campaign want to send a neswletter to every household in Scotland.

Given that they will have to acquire the addresses, it's very similar to this. Do you think that will be acceptable?

As I say - serious question.
# AmadeusMinkowski 2013-04-27 21:55
Surely there is a difference between blanket mailing to addresses and acquiring knowledge of who actually lives there?
# cazw 2013-04-28 01:02
ALL political parties have access to the FULL electoral registers across Scotland. As do financial organisations etc.

Electronic versions of electoral registers are provided to political parties (at cost I think) and they are allowed to use these registers for postal shots. When you complete the voter registration form each year it tells you who has full access to the full register (unedited).

Private companies etc are not able to access the unedited registers, however they can access the edited versions which exclude the names of voters who have opted to have their names excluded from the edited version.Full unedited versions are available in public libraries etc in hard copy format.

However the rules have always been that political parties can have a copy, (either hard or electronic)for campaign use which includes posting campaign material.

This is completely different to an organisation covertly obtaining personal phone numbers of individuals without their permission
# davemsc 2013-04-28 10:29
There is absolutely no similarity. Nobody has to 'acquire' addresses in order to leaflet houses: you just send a person with a load of leaflets and get them to pop them through letterboxes. No database required.
# Stevie Cosmic 2013-04-27 18:06
May I suggest that Newsnet blurs the url in the above image, as it actually leads to a url containing the recipient's actual phone number.

People have been posting these screen captures on Facebook without realising they're exposing their personal phone numbers.
# bringiton 2013-04-27 18:28
This has the hallmarks of a North American campaign.Wonder if it was dreamed up by the No people's imported advisers ?
# AmadeusMinkowski 2013-04-27 20:17
[quote name="bringiton"]This has the hallmarks of a North American campaign.Wonder if it was dreamed up by the No people's imported advisers ?[/q@bringiton

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, "Blue State Digital" is behind this BitterTogether texting campaign. This is part of a sophisticated "DATA MINING" and "Machine Learning" approach headed up by Computer Scientists.

If there is a legal way to combat this, suggestions so far being Telecommunicati ons Act, or a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act, it is imperative that those who can should pursue this vigorously*

*It is a scientifically measurable fact, that Blue State Digital's Maching Learning/Data Mining Approach to the recent US Presidential election was instrumental in the outcome.

Blue State Digital ran Obama's 2012 Presidential Campaignuote]
# amimmortal 2013-04-27 18:37
As an alternative to the Telecommunicati ons Act, making a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act is a surefire way of causing problems for BT.

They have 40 days to respond, may only charge a nominal fee to do it, and face fines (per breach and individual) if they are found in breach of the Data Protection Principles. Fines are imposed by the Information Commissioners Office if such action can be justified).

In any event, it you could certainly spin some bad press for the BT campaign.

If I received one of these messages, I would raise an SAR against BT to establish where they got my information, and where they obtained my consent to be contacted.

If enough people do this, it could cripple their admin department and expose them to significant breaches of Data Protection Act.

It would also cost them money, which can only be a good thing.
# kofk 2013-04-27 18:53
Hopefully the Scottish Goverment will find away of tackling this very biased media
# williemacewan 2013-04-27 19:23
We have no way of requiring the media to be honest, fair and balanced so we have to get used to the fact that we have to win this by personal contact and through the freedom of the online media.
The funds donated to the NO campaign are immaterial. They have massive free press coverage - but that is about all they have as an advantage over us.
# hetty 2013-04-27 20:00
Re Jamie Blacks's comment, I would think that the YES campaign can only access a certain number/type of addresses...not sure about the legality, and who's and where? But maybe they can access addresses via the electoral role legit like. Don't worry Jamie, the YES campaign are not soo desperate as to need to do anything so underhand as the 'no' lot so far!! I noticed after my son had been on my computer on facebook today, that an ad by the 'no' (better together) lot was posted on his page and he'd accidently 'liked' it!! When I tried to 'unlike',it then disappeared!! Will they be counting anyone who doesn't vote as a 'no' then? Or anyone who has died as a 'no'?
They (the 'no' campaign) will stoop very very low to get what they want,ie, to keep their dirty mits on Scotlands oil and other crucial assets, quite clearly.
There's much at stake for westminster and the millionaires thereof, otherwise they wouldn't be bothered one bit. I hate swearing but, F.O!
# AmadeusMinkowski 2013-04-27 20:05

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, "Blue State Digital" is behind this BitterTogether texting campaign. This is part of a sophisticated "DATA MINING" and "Machine Learning" approach headed up by Computer Scientists.

If there is a legal way to combat this, suggestions so far being Telecommunicati ons Act, or a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act, it is imperative that those who can should pursue this vigorously*

*It is a scientifically measurable fact, that Blue State Digital's Maching Learning/Data Mining Approach to the recent US Presidential election was instrumental in the outcome.

Blue State Digital ran Obama's 2012 Presidential Campaign
# DJ 2013-04-27 20:08
When you get them at the door keep them talking. Pretend you're undecided since every minute of their time you waste is a minute they can't persuade a genuine undecided.

# Early Ball 2013-04-27 21:52
That is what I do. Waste their time.
# cynicalHighlander 2013-04-27 20:29
Martin Lewis: how to stop spam texts:
# From The Suburbs 2013-04-27 22:50
I look forward , but not hopeful, that the supine Scottish press corps will report on the vast majority of the Have I Got News For You audience voting for Scots to "bugger off".

And they are very liberal in attitude compared to the BNP, UKIP and Orange Order support for the anti Scottish independence NO campaign.
# src19 2013-04-28 00:02
The clip from HIGNFY :-
# Roll_On_2011 2013-04-27 23:59

Does anybody remember this article from this site; Mary Lockhart Chair of the Scottish section of the ‘Cooperative Paty’ came out on the side of voting YES next year:

Well it appears, to me at least, that she has been forced to resign her position in that party:
# Coolbeans 2013-04-28 00:07
@ bringiton. I think you're 100% correct. This kind of thing is new to this country. I'm sure we will see more new tricks over the next year. Its disgusting, they are playing with us and I'm sure they all think its a good game!
# cazw 2013-04-28 00:21
I received one of these text messages today on my personal mobile phone. It wasn't addressed to me, in fact it appeared that they had been trying to send it to my daughter but got her name wrong - it read "Hi Sinead...". My daughter's name isn't "Sinead", it's actually 'Sinea' so they failed to even get her name correct even though it was my mobile number they had sent it to. Second, aside from the intrusion into my personal space, the text then stated that should I agree that the UK is 'better together' then I should text them back. Or should I not wish to receive further text messages from them then I need to text a BT number. They failed to state how much each text message would cost me - which I understand is now a legal requirement for them to do.It wasn't clear, who had sent the text, what information they held about me, how it would be stored, or who else would have access to it. I shall be contacting them by letter to ask for answers for all of these questions and more!!
# AmadeusMinkowski 2013-04-28 10:25
I'm glad to hear that you will pursue this. I would also encourage you to consider the options mentioned by other earlier; Telecomunicatio ns Act or a Subject Access Request (SAR) under the Data Protection Act..

It is highly likely that "Blue State Digital" is behind this BitterTogether texting campaign; a "DATA MINING" and "MACHINE LEARNING" approach to electioneering, used to great effect in the Obama presidential campaign*. Their approach there was based strictly on profiling swing voters, and then making personal contact; personal calls/visits, car rides to polling stations on voting day etc. This may sound far fetched for those not in the know, but this is exactly how Blue State proceeded in the Obama 2012 campaign; the "grass-roots" part of the campaign was mainly providing bodies on the ground to do this targeted work.

The YES campaign may be able to support you and others on this; worth a try.
# cazw 2013-04-29 00:20
The Labour Party were the first UK political party to use 'voter ID' to personally contact swing voters - they did this in the two years up to the 1997 election campaign where it was deemed to have been very successful.

Interestingly, the ONLY time that my daughter has been associated with my mobile on ANYTHING was when she applied for funding via SAAS for her University funding\support ! At the time her mobile wasn't working so we put my mob number down instead. If I find that personal details have been disclosed by the Student Awards Agency Scotland I shall be taking action against them. Indeed, it is suspicious that the majority of those who seem to have been contacted by text from Better Together have in most cases been under the age of 25!
# kenneth_clark336 2013-04-28 01:13
As a long time fan of HIGNFY I do accept the programme is supposed to be challenging and controversial, but there was an aggressiveness about the presentation of the Scottish independence question which I found wholly distasteful and brought back memories of the Question Time audience reaction. With Ray Winstone (I am a fan) in full cockney mode encouraging the audience to tell Scotland to bugger off, I wondered if I was being too thin skinned. I imagined what I would feel if a Scottish programme dealt with the English in the same manner and realised I would feel the same way. The arrogant condescension was palpable and extremely unattractive. It would serve them all right if we did just abandon them to stew in their own juice! O/T A letter in Saturday's Courier suggests that anything under an 80% turn out should render any result null and void. Where have we heard that before?
# Early Ball 2013-04-28 07:21
I have noticed Private Eye having a pop at Salmond over the last couple of years over trivia. I had hoped Private Eye might be a place where the complaints about the MSM might get an airing however Hislop's comments on HIGNFY would rule that out.
# Breeks 2013-04-28 08:54
I fully expect Private Eye would have a dig at the established media bias, provided it recognised it.

You think that HIGNFY humour is malicious? Think back to Spitting Image; Thatcher dining out with the 'vegetables', or little David Steel riding piggy back on David Owen. Thatcher's monstrous and hateful caricature perversely enhanced her wicked public image, while David Steel's finished his career.

Sometimes it takes a thick skin to deal with satire, brass it out, because it will be merciless if it finds a weakness where it's mischief resonates.

The time to strike back isn't when the joke's at our expense, but when it's at theirs and they don't find something funny. Such as the short circuit in the English sense of humour when Andy Murray declared support for anyone but England.
# 1314 2013-04-28 08:54
O/T - A clip from Derek Bateman - Discussion between Alex Massie and Pat Kane - reasoned, funny, points acknowledged.

We could do with more of this.
# Diabloandco 2013-04-28 09:03
I just discovered that if you dial 1477 after a landline phone call it registers it as " malicious" .I have used it after those irritating silent until the "goodbye" phone calls and will continue so to do with those irritating ," My name is Sean( with a very unseany accent) and I am phoning about your computer right
I am not sure if 1477 would work on a mobile phone but the service provider might have an alternative.
# colin8652 2013-04-28 11:51
For information.
Earlier this week I got a facebook message flash up from a lifelong mate indicating that he liked the better together page. Knowing this to be odd considering his nationalist views a phoned him. He had no idea about how this had happened until he remembered clicking on a harmless looking post from a third party who was likely to be a unionist. It appears that him clicking on the post which had little to do with the independence debate it registered a like for the Better together page. How many thousands of others have been caught out this way. My friend has now made sure that the page was unliked.
# nchanter 2013-04-28 15:24
I seldom contribute to this site though I am a daily reader. I am getting tired of the to-ing and fro-ing on most topics and would wish for the real expert the one person who knows exactly what the right of the currency situation is, the one person who's word is law , as they say end of, no more arguing . Please.
# Airchie 2013-04-28 17:53
Spam texts can be reported to the Information Commissioner :

There's also a campaign to have something done about the whole nuisance phone call issue :
# tartantommy 2013-04-28 17:56
Aye, the BT spam txt I got one, fired them of an e-mail I never disclose my mobile number, I've had the same number for nearly 14yrs & this is the 1st spam txt So unless The SNP, Yes Scotland, my bank or mobile company. Then BETTER TOGETHER ARE L*** B******'S
# AmadeusMinkowski 2013-04-28 20:58
Have you read #cazw above and my response? Might be a good idea for you and #cazw to team up.

As you can see from my response to #cazw, it will be invaluable to legally push back on this BT tactic as fast and as much as possible.
# Breeks 2013-04-28 18:10
Can't be done nchanter. The SNP propose a policy which is 90% watertight, but the Unionists attack the 10% variable and seek to discredit the whole policy over some minor detail.

Alex Salmond's currency zone is a rational, watertight proposal, but it assumes the UK chancellor would be equally rational. Not so. George Osborne flies off on a tangent, squeals how daft it is, while blind to the fact that losing Scotland's wealth in resources and £40 billion contribution to the UK balance of trade would see the value of the UK's economy in freefall, with speculators the likes of George Soros circling in the skies overhead.

Trust in the SNP's vision for Scotland is good for that 90% rationale in their policy, but that last 10% outside their control is a playground of doubt and hysteria being enthusiasticall y agitated by Better Together. It's tiresome and unhelpful, but for all the white noise, Salmond hasn't taken a step backwards yet.

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