Bounty fined £400,000 for sharing personal data unlawfully
PUBLISHED: 13:47 13 April 2019 | UPDATED: 13:47 13 April 2019
A pregnancy and parenting club has been fined £400,000 for illegally sharing personal information of more than 14 million people following an investigation.
The Information Commissoner’s Office (ICO) found that Bounty UK 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.
The company breached the Data Protection Act by sharing personal information with a number of organisations without being fully clear with people that it might do so.
Bounty shared approximately 34.4m 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.
Last year, this newspaper reported that Ipswich Hospital had changed its policy on Bounty representatives after a Suffolk mother raised concerns about her experience.
MORE: Ipswich Hospital changes policy on Bounty representatives after mum raises concerns
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.
In a statement, Jim Kelleher, managing director of Bounty, said: “We acknowledge the ICO’s findings – in the past we did not take a broad enough view of our responsibilities and as a result our data-sharing processes, specifically with regards to transparency, were not robust enough. “This was not of the standard expected of us. However, the ICO has recognised that these are historical issues. “Our priority is to continue to provide a valuable service for new parents that is both helpful and trusted.”