The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is to fine the owner of a website £140,000 for selling information on 1 million people without their consent to the Labour Party.
The Labour Party used the data obtained from Emma’s Diary service (and its owner Lifecycle Marketing) in its 2017 general election campaign.
But Lifecycle Marketing has disputed the ICO’s findings and said it was not given a chance to respond before the ICO published its report.
The ICO concluded that Lifecycle Marketing had supplied 1,065,200 records to the data broker Experian Marketing Services for use by the Labour Party.
Reach record included the the name of the parent who had joined Emma’s Diary; home address; what children up to the age of five are present in the household; and the birth dates of the mother and children.
“The Information Commissioner is minded to issue Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd (“LCMB”) with a monetary penalty under section 554 of the Data Protection Act 1998 (“DPA”) because of a serious contravention of the first data protection principle (“DPP1”) from Schedule I to the DPA,” said the ICO.
“LCMB contravened DPP1 by selling the personal data of more than 1 million individuals to the Labour Party for use in the Labour Party’s general election campaign in 2017 without informing those individuals that it might do so. As a result, LCMB processed that personal data unfairly and without satisfying any processing condition under Schedule 2 DPA,” it said.
The Labour Party told the BBC that it will review its “approach to acquiring data from third parties” in light of the report.
The ICO reportedly said the Buckinghamshire-based Lifecycle Marketing had understood the data would be used by a mail campaign promoting Labour’s family-friendly policies in 106 constituencies.
But Lifecycle has hit back and said the ICO findings contained “significant factual inaccuracies.”
“As a result, details of the ICO’s findings, including those being reported by the press, contain significant factual inaccuracies which we trust will be corrected,” a spokeswoman for Lifecycle Marketing told the BBC.
“This includes the untrue claim that we sold data from expectant mothers to the Labour Party. Furthermore, Lifecycle has never been, nor ever will be, involved in collecting data from mothers in maternity wards,” it added.
The ICO will make its final ruling after hearing back from Lifecycle Marketing on or after 30 July.
The issue of people’s data being used for any commercial reason has become a highly sensitive subject of late, especially if the data involved is used for political purposes.
In April European Union privacy watchdogs warned they will examine the harvesting of personal data from social networks for economic or political purposes.
The move follows the Cambridge Analytica data harvesting scandal that has affected 87 million Facebook users.
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