The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined Bounty (UK) Limited £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information belonging to more than 14 million people.

An ICO investigation found that Bounty, a pregnancy and parenting club, collected personal information for the purpose of membership registration through its website and mobile app, merchandise pack claim cards and directly from new mothers at hospital bedsides.

But the company also operated as a data broking service until 30 April 2018, supplying data to third parties for the purpose of electronic direct marketing.

Bounty breached the Data Protection Act 1998 by sharing personal information with a number of organisations without being fully clear with people that it might do so.

The company shared approximately 34.4 million records between June 2017 and April 2018 with credit reference and marketing agencies, including Acxiom, Equifax, Indicia and Sky.

These organisations represented the four largest recipients out of a total of 39 organisations which Bounty confirmed it shared personal data with.

The personal information shared was not only of potentially vulnerable, new mothers or mothers-to-be but also of very young children, including the birth date and sex of a child.

Steve Eckersley, ICO’s Director of Investigations, said:

“The number of personal records and people affected in this case is unprecedented in the history of the ICO’s investigations into data broking industry and organisations linked to this.

“Bounty were not open or transparent to the millions of people that their personal data may be passed on to such large number of organisations. Any consent given by these people was clearly not informed. Bounty’s actions appear to have been motivated by financial gain, given that data sharing was an integral part of their business model at the time. 

“Such careless data sharing is likely to have caused distress to many people, since they did not know that their personal information was being shared multiple times with so many organisations, including information about their pregnancy status and their children” 

The investigation found that for online registrations, Bounty’s privacy notices had a reasonably clear description of the organisations they might share information with, but none of the four largest recipients were listed. 

Additionally, none of the merchandise pack claim cards and offline registration methods had an opt-in for marketing purposes.

 

 

Notes to Editors

  • The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) is the UK’s independent regulator for data protection and information rights law, upholding information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  • The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 2018 (DPA2018), the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA), Environmental Information Regulations 2004 (EIR) and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (PECR).
  • Due to the timing of this investigation, the civil monetary penalty has been issued under the previous legislation, the Data Protection Act 1998. The maximum financial penalty in civil cases under former laws is £500,000.
  • Under past and current law, the ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
  • Under past and current law, the ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit.
  • The GDPR and the DPA2018 gave the ICO new strengthened powers. Since 25 May 2018, the ICO has the power to impose a civil monetary penalty (CMP) on a data controller of up to £17million (20m Euro) or 4% of global turnover.
  • The data protection principles in the GDPR evolved from the original DPA, and set out the main responsibilities for organisations. Article 5 of the GDPR requires that personal data shall be:
  • Processed lawfully, fairly and in a transparent manner in relation to individuals;
  • Collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes;
  • Adequate, relevant and limited to what is necessary in relation to the purposes for which they are processed;
  • Accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date
  • Kept in a form which permits identification of data subjects for no longer than is necessary; and
  • Processed using appropriate technical or organisational measures in a manner that ensures appropriate security of the personal data.
  • Article 5(2) requires that “the controller shall be responsible for, and be able to demonstrate, compliance with the principles.”
  • Civil Monetary Penalties (CMPs) under past and current law are subject to a right of appeal to the (First-tier Tribunal) General Regulatory Chamber against the imposition of the monetary penalty and/or the amount of the penalty specified in the monetary penalty notice.
  • Any monetary penalty is paid into the Treasury’s Consolidated Fund and is not kept by ICO.
  • To report a concern to the ICO go to ico.org.uk/concerns.

 

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