Parenting site Emma’s Diary has been fined £140,000 for indirectly and illegally selling more than a million new mums’ personal data to the Labour Party.
The site was found to have broken the law when it sold the information to Experian, a data agency, who managed it on behalf of Labour in the run up to the 2017 election.
Labour then used the data to profile mums living in marginal seats, before sending them marketing mail about its policy on Sure Start Children’s Centres.
The Information Commissioner’s Office said Emma’s Diary had breached data protection rules by failing to disclose to users that their data would be used for political marketing.
“The relationship between data brokers, political parties and campaigns is complex,” said the Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. “Even though this company was not directly involved in political campaigning, the democratic process must be transparent.”
Denham first revealed her intention to take regulatory action against Emma’s Diary in an interim report on a long-running investigation into the role of data in political campaigning.
A spokesperson for Emma’s Diary apologised for the incident: “The ICO matter is related to data we provided to Experian, some of which was used by the Labour Party for a one-off mailing in connection with Sure Start Children’s Centres. We had never previously provided data to a political party and we will never do so again.
“We have always sought to fully comply with our data protection obligations, which we take extremely seriously,” he added. “We are sorry that on this isolated occasion our interpretation of the [Data Protection Act] has not been in line with the ICO’s.”
A Labour Party spokesperson, said: “We have neither bought nor used Emma’s Diary data since the 2017 General Election and we are in the process of reviewing our approach to acquiring data from third parties.”
Experian did not immediately respond to a request for comment.