South Holland was among 300-plus councils selling the Edited Electoral Register (EER) to firms in the last five years.
Councils were paid at least £265,000, according to a Big Brother Watch report.
The report reveals South Holland sold six copies of its register – five to unspecified organisations and one to an individual – and received £376.50.
Big Brother Watch condemned the sales and says its view is shared by the Local Government Association – of which South Holland leader Gary Porter is vice-chairman – the Electoral Commission and the Association of Electoral Administrators.
The report claims the sales discourage people from registering to vote and says: “It undermines trust and confidence in the wider public sector’s ability to protect people’s privacy and potentially deters people from engaging in a critical part of our democracy.”
The report says research in 2003 revealed 79 per cent of people were unaware of the provision allowing them to opt out of the edited version when they register to vote – and few know they can permanently opt out.
But Coun Porter says there’s a tick box on council forms and anyone can opt out of being on the public electoral register – and firms have any number of ways to obtain people’s details such as the property register.
Coun Porter saw no reason to stop the sales and says money raised goes into the council’s general fund while council tax is going down and Government grant is being cut.
He asked: “Why would you? It’s a chance of making a couple of quid.”