Popular parenting advice website, Emma’s Diary, is facing a fine for illegally sharing more than one million people’s personal data with the Labour Party.
According to the BBC, the company behind Emma’s Diary will be issued with a £140,000 penalty by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).
Sold data without disclosing it
It is common for political parties to buy personal information in order to target their campaigns, but appropriate prior consent must have been obtained by the data providers.
The ICO say that Lifecycle Marketing (which owns and operates Emma’s Diary) sold users’ data for use in the 2017 general election campaign without disclosing it.
Lifecycle Marketing has denied the allegations.
‘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,” said a spokeswoman for Lifecycle Marketing.
“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.”
Addresses and dates of birth were shared
According to the ICO, Lifecycle Marketing supplied the records of 1,065,200 people to the data broker Experian Marketing Services for use by Labour on 5 May 2017.
Each record included:
- 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 data watchdog believes that Lifecycle Marketing (which is based in Buckinghamshire) had understood the data would influence a mail campaign promoting Labour’s family-friendly policies in 106 constituencies.
In the public’s interest
The ICO revealed Emma’s Diary’s forthcoming fine in a footnote to a report about the misuse of personal data during the Brexit referendum.
The watchdog said it announced the information early due to an “overriding public interest”.
Emma’s Diary said it had not been given an opportunity to respond to the allegations before the report was published.