12:16PM, Thursday 09 August 2018
A childcare and pregnancy advice publication has been fined £140,000 for illegally selling the personal data of more than a million people which was later used by the Labour Party.
Bourne End-based Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd, which trades as Emma’s Diary, sold the information to Experian Marketing Services, a branch of the credit reference agency.
Experian created a database from the information, which Labour used to profile new mothers ahead of the 2017 general election.
Labour used it to send direct mail about its plans to protect Sure Start children’s centres to mothers living in areas with marginal seats.
The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, 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.”
In July, when the ICO revealed it was considering fining Emma’s Diary, the publication said it took data protection ‘extremely seriously’ and was ‘disappointed’ the ICO published the report, which it said contained ‘significant factual inaccuracies’.
That month, Experian also said it worked with regulators to ‘strictly comply’ with data protection laws and remained vigilant to data security.
A spokesman for Lifecycle Marketing said last week: "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."
A spokesman from Labour said: “The Labour Party had no involvement whatsoever in the illegal collection of data by Emma’s Diary.
“We have neither bought nor used Emma’s Diary data since the 2017 General Election and we are in the process of reviewing our approach to acquiring data from third parties."
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