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Emma’s Diary Pitfall of Selling Personal Information for Political Campaigning

28 Aug 2018

 

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd, also known as Emma’s Diary, £140,000 for illegally collecting and selling personal information belonging to more than one million people for use by the Labour Party, which used it to profile new mums.

 

The data broking company, which provides advice on pregnancy and childcare, sold the information to Experian Marketing Services, a branch of the credit reference agency, specifically for use by the Labour Party. Experian then created a database which the party used to profile the new mums in the run up to the 2017 General Election.

 

The ICO investigation found that Emma’s Diary’s privacy policy did not disclose that the personal information given would be used for political marketing or by political parties. This is a breach of the Data Protection Act 1998.

 

Lifecycle Marketing, which owns Emma's Diary, apologised in a statement:

 

“We have always sought to fully comply with our data protection obligations, which we take extremely seriously, we are sorry that on this isolated occasion, our interpretation of the [data protection act] has not been in line with that of the ICO."

 

Elizabeth Denham, Information Commissioner said:

 

“The relationship between data brokers, political parties and campaigns is complex. Even though this company was not directly involved in political campaigning, the democratic process must be transparent.”

 

The 1,065,200 records sold to the Labour Party included personal data such as:

  • the name of the parent who had joined Emma's Diary

  • their home address

  • whether children up to the age of five were present

  • the birth dates of the mother and children

The ICO has put the UK’s 11 main political parties on notice to have their data-sharing practices audited later this year. The ICO also has outstanding enquiries with a number of data brokers, including Experian.

 

The ICO has also reiterated that:

 

“They are committed to monitoring data brokers, political parties and online platforms and using new audit and enforcement powers so that the public can have confidence that parties and political campaign groups are complying with the law.”

 

The Regulatory Unit at Short, Richardson & Forth can assist companies in redrafting policies and providing due-diligence documentation in order to avoid such pitfalls. If you have made a mistake or fallen foul of the Regulator, Head of the Department Andrew Swan has a wealth of experience in representing companies subject to enforcement action. Should you require any compliance advice or representation, please do not hesitate to contact Andrew at as@srflegal.co.uk or on 0191 232 0283.

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Short Richardson & Forth, 4 Mosley Street, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1DE

Tel: +44 (0)191 232 0283  ·  Email: info@srflegal.co.uk

 

Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited is a private limited company registered in England and Wales under company number 10572065, authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority No 637150.

Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited is a private limited company constituted and run in accordance with the provisions of the Companies Act 2006. The term “partner” has been used to denote individual senior solicitors employed by Short Richardson and Forth Solicitors Limited.