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Mum and baby site sold a million users’ data to Labour party

Written by: Paloma Kubiak
Emma’s Diary has been fined for illegally selling the personal details of more than a million users, with the information harvested by a political group during last year’s General Election.

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.

The site, which provides advice on pregnancy and childcare, sold the personal details of more than a million users to credit reference agency Experian Marketing Services.

Experian then created a database of details which was used by the Labour party to target and profile new mums during its campaign trail.

Labour sent targeted direct mail to mums living in areas with marginal seats informing them about their plan to protect Sure Start Children’s Centres.

An ICO investigation found that Emma’s Diary breached the Data Protection Act 1998 as its privacy policy failed to disclose that personal information supplied would be used for political marketing or by political parties.

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.

“All organisations involved in political campaigning must use personal information in ways that are transparent, lawful and understood by the UK public.”

‘We will never do this again’

A Lifecycle Marketing spokesperson, said: “Lifecycle Marketing has been supporting parents for more than 25 years. We pride ourselves on working in an ethical and professional manner providing valuable content, support and advice to parents across the UK.

“The ICO matter is related to data we provided to Experian, some of which was used by the Labour Party for a one-off mailing in connection with Sure Start Children’s Centres. We had never previously provided data to a political party and we will never do so again.

“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 DPA has not been in line with the ICO’s.
“We are fully compliant with the new GDPR and give our parents complete control over the communications they receive.”

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