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February 10, 2010updated 19 Aug 2016 10:05am

Do you like listening to political robots?

While you may seek a cheap thrill from telling political campaigners exactly what you think of their parties, you've got no such capacity when you're hit with a so-called "robocall".The Labour Party found itself in hot water recently when the

By Jason Stamper Blog

While you may seek a cheap thrill from telling political campaigners exactly what you think of their parties, you’ve got no such capacity when you’re hit with a so-called “robocall”.

The Labour Party found itself in hot water recently when the Information Commissioner’s Office said it had breached privacy rules by making unsolicited automated “robocalls” – voiced by Coronation Street star Liz Dawn – to 495,000 people. But the Lib Dems, Tories and SNP have used the gimmick too.

In the run-up to the election it’s likely these and other telephonic tactics will be on the increase.

But fear not, because help is at hand for those who prefer not to receive their campaigning, unsolicited, down the dog and bone. A new website has been set up by inventor Steve Smith, who made Dragon’s Den history last summer when he received offers from all five Dragons on the show for his trueCall nuisance call blocking device.

He’s set up www.thepoliticalcallregister.co.uk. By registering on the site, Smith promises to send your details to the main political parties, asking them not to contact you by phone. If they persist, he’s promising to name and shame the culprits.

“This is a growing problem and the parties that do it are worse than cowboy telemarketers,” Smith said. “These calls can be made for a penny each, so the politicians can very cheaply flood the country with calls – this is extremely intrusive.”

Not everyone will be signing up for the service, mind. Smith’s company trueCall carried out its own research with Mori in October 2008 and found that while 75 per cent of voters would not be happy if a political party rang them and played a recorded message, that leaves a sizable 25 per cent who clearly quite like the sound of a political robot’s voice.

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Besides, if you think we’ve got it bad in the UK, you have to feel for the Americans, where political “robocalling” is even more commonplace, and even more distasteful. In one automated message, people picked up the phone to hear a recording of an unidentified woman sobbing, and talking about an abortion-related incident she claimed she’d had at a women’s health clinic founded by a Democratic congresswoman. Given the choice, I think I’d rather listen to Corrie’s Liz Dawn.

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