A year on, as consumers we are in greater control of our data, of who we want to contact us and how, as well as who we don’t want to hear from. As businesses, how clear are we on our role in this still new world?
This month, a high-profile case of a breach of the 1998 Data Protection Act was reported. Bounty, a pregnancy and parenting club, was fined by the Information Commissioner’s Office £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information belonging to more than 14 million people.
An ICO investigation found that Bounty 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.
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”
Are you clear on your data practices?
As a business owner you need to regularly reflect on your own data practices. How clear are you on what data you are collecting on individuals and for what purpose? Do you have the correct consent? Are you storing data in a safe and appropriate way? Are you clear on your internal processes to manage personal data? Do you know what your responsibilities are? If the answer to any of these questions is unclear to you, then you shouldn’t be collecting data. Instead, you need to seek clarity and quickly.
Where to get help
For an overview from the Information Commissioner's Office on marketing and data protection, visit https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/marketing/
If you need a refresher on GDPR, there is a range of information and articles on our GDPR hub https://www.olamalu.com/gdpr-hub