MSE News

Pregnancy club Bounty fined £400,000 for illegally sharing 14 million people's data

Pregnancy and parenting club Bounty has been fined £400,000 by the information watchdog for illegally sharing the personal information of 14 million people.

The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said that until 30 April last year, Bounty supplied members' data to third parties for marketing.

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.

And the information that was shared included personal information such as the birth date and gender of children.

What did the investigation find?

The ICO investigation found that Bounty collected personal information for membership registrations through its website, mobile app, merchandise pack claim cards and directly from new mothers at hospital bedsides.

It breached data protection laws by sharing personal information with a number of organisations without being fully clear with people that it might do so.

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.

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

We previously mentioned the Bounty app in our Baby Checklist guide, but have now removed it.

What information was shared?

The information shared was:

• Member's name, date of birth, postal address and email address.

• Expected due date.

• Whether they were a first-time mum.

• Their child's gender and date of birth.

'The number affected in this case is unprecedented'

ICO director of investigations Steve Eckersley said: "The number of personal records and people affected in this case is unprecedented in the history of the ICO's investigations into the 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 a 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."

What does Bounty say?

Bounty managing director Jim Kelleher 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.

"Our 'Bounty Promise' sets out our continued commitment to carefully look after our members' personal information. And to ensure our promise is never broken, we will appoint an independent data expert to check how we are doing every year and we will publish their findings annually on the Bounty website."

MSE weekly email

FREE weekly MoneySaving email

For all the latest deals, guides and loopholes simply sign up today – it's spam-free!