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Can you make a data breach claim against Emma’s Diary?

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Lifecycle Marketing (Mother and Baby) Ltd (LCMB), £140,000 for illegally collecting and selling the personal information of over one million people.

LCMB, also known as Emma’s Diary, gives medical advice and free baby-themed goods to parents who download an app. The data broking company behind the app was implicated following the launch of an investigation into the Facebook data breach scandal.

As such, those affected should now be looking to claim compensation.

What happened in this case?

LCMB sold its users’ information to Experian’s marketing division (Experian Marketing Services). This data was then used to create a database which the Labour Party manipulated to profile new mums in the run-up to the 2017 General Election.

The Labour Party used this information to send targeted communications about its intention to protect Sure Start Children’s centres to mums living in marginal seats.

The data used included the names of parents using the app, household addresses, the presence of children under the age of five, and the date of birth of those children.

What was the result of the investigation?

LCMB claimed that the use of this information was fully outlined in its privacy policy. However, an investigation by the ICO found that the privacy policy did not state that the personal information given would be used for political marketing or by political parties. As such, this was a breach of the Data Protection Act.

In fact, while LCMB’s privacy policy was eventually updated to add the words “political parties” to the list of organisations it shares data with, this was only done in light of the start of the ICO’s investigation.

Commenting on this case, 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.”

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

As the violation could cause distress to those affected, and was motivated by financial gain, LCMB has been fined £140,000 for the data breach.

What can you do?

While the ICO has the power to impose hefty fines on organisations who fail to meet their data protection obligations, it does not award compensation to victims. But, once an organisation has been found guilty by the ICO – as in this case – you can use that information to support a data protection compensation claim.

The latest breach by Emma’s Diary (LCMB) is part of a more extensive investigation into how our data is being used in political campaigning. In fact, the ICO put the UK’s 11 main political parties on notice to have their data-sharing practices audited later this year.

Worryingly, Elizabeth Denham has said that: “We are at a crossroads. Trust and confidence in the integrity of our democratic processes risk being disrupted because the average voter has little idea of what is going on behind the scenes.

“New technologies that use data analytics to micro-target people give campaign groups the ability to connect with individual voters.

“But this cannot be at the expense of transparency, fairness and compliance with the law.”

She also said that the impact of behavioural advertising in elections was significant and has called for a code of practice to fix the system.

If you are one of those affected by the Emma’s Diary data breach and are concerned that your personal information was used in a way you didn’t consent to, contact Hayes Connor Solicitors immediately. We can help you to claim the maximum amount of compensation in the minimum amount of time, on a no-win, no-fee basis.

With strict-time limits in place for making most compensation claims, it’s essential to act now.

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