From the moment you begin campaigning, whether you are an official candidate for an Election or before, it is likely that people will share information about themselves which you MUST consider to have been shared in trust.
Whether there are laws or regulations that cover your conduct as a councillor once you have been elected, or before when getting yourself elected is just your aim, you must embrace the principles of Data Protection within everything that you do.
This basically means that any personal information you are given or obtain is for your use alone, unless there is a very good reason to share what you know with an appropriate person or authority.
Unless there is a need for immediate intervention because someone is clearly at risk from harm, you should always ask the permission of the person, family, parent or guardian BEFORE communicating information you have been given in trust to anyone else.
If for any reason you need to share information with an appropriate authority you should be confident in the legitimacy of that person’s post or responsibility and keep records – preferably e-mail copies, of everything you share and discuss with them.
ALL personal information you have regarding ANYONE – even their names and contact details must be held securely, and not be accessible to anyone other than yourself. Password and preferably encrypted protection of such documents as a minimum is a must.
Occasionally, you will become aware of a story or a valuable insight into a broader issue for the community, which could be illustrated by information that one resident or their family can give. If you feel this to be the case, you MUST ask the permission of the person and/or family before using their names and any information about them in any material you publish, communication you have with the media, or any reference you make to them in public.
You should also never publish photographs of people in which ANY of them can be identified – no matter how difficult it may seem, without asking their permission first.
In the case of children and young people under the age of 18, or adults who may be considered vulnerable, you MUST obtain the permission of their parent or guardian before taking and publishing their picture.
Do not assume consent to take pictures, just because someone attends a meeting or an event which has been organised by you.
If you are in any doubt about permission DO NOT PUBLISH!
If you have no legitimate reason to keep personal information you should delete or destroy it.
Data Protection is one of those things which it is not only useful to read up about, but to also keep up to date with too. As such, I cannot recommend highly enough that you research Data Protection and the new rules coming into force in 2018, as these will certainly help you once you are elected, and be a good thing to know about in the meantime too. (Take a look at the Information Commissioners Office Website and Google Data Protection and GDPR / General Data Protection Regulations)