NEWS9 August 2018

ICO fines Emma’s Diary for selling data to Labour

Data analytics News Privacy Public Sector UK

UK – Parenting advice website Emma’s Diary has been fined £140,000 by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for unlawfully selling personal data to the Labour party.

Young mum laptop_crop

The company sold information belonging to one million people to Experian Marketing Services, for use by Labour, in the lead up to the 2017 general election.

Labour used the data for a targeted direct mail campaign to mothers living in marginal areas, according to the ICO notice.

The regulator has concluded that Emma’s Diary breached the Data Protection Act 1988 by not disclosing within its privacy policy that personal data shared with the site would be used for political purposes.

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.”

The case is part of the ICO’s wider investigation on the use of data analytics for political purposes, which has centred on Cambridge Analytica’s alleged misuse of personal data obtained from Facebook. An interim report was published last month, with the next phase of the investigation expected to conclude by the end of October.

A spokesperson from Lifecycle Marketing, the company which owns Emma’s Diary, said: “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 [Data Protection Act] has not been in line with the ICO’s.”

A Labour party spokesperson said: “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."