UK Fines ‘Easylife’ for Deriving Medical Data of 145k Clients

UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has fined catalog retailer Easylife £1.48 million ($1.65 million) for violating data protection and marketing laws.

More specifically, the national data protection agency has confirmed that Easylife was using a combination of purchase data and personal information to determine the medical condition of 145,400 customers.

Equipped with this knowledge, the company promoted specific health-related products and services that matched the predicted condition to the tracked clients.

“For example, if a person bought a jar opener or a dinner tray, Easylife would use that purchase data to assume that person has arthritis and then call the individual to market glucosamine joint patches,” details ICO’s announcement.

Easylife sells various household items and also retails specialized products exclusive to “club” members, covering the categories of gardening, motor, and health.

Club members are registered customers who have shared personal details with the company under the platform’s terms, but never gave their consent for using their personal or purchase data for targeted advertising.

ICO found that 80 items listed in Easylife’s Health Club catalog are ‘trigger’ products, meaning they hold special significance for predicting a medical condition.

Once a customer purchased one of those 80 items, Easylife stealthily ramped up the intrusive profiling for their accounts and engaged in aggressive marketing by promoting relevant products.

Advertising specific products that match a particular condition, often accurately, raised the suspicion of the customers, who rightly felt that their privacy had been violated.

That is especially the case when the promotion isn’t

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