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Pharmacy Sells Your Details - Fined £130,000

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In total, Pharmacy 2U advertised over 100,000 customer details for sale, with the online database detailing what conditions people were suffering. Specific breakdowns of types of customer were offered for sale for £130 per 1,000 records, representing a massive breach of privacy.

http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2431162/poisonous-online-pharmacy-pharmacy2u-fined-by-ico-for-illegally-selling-nhs-patient-data

I'm pretty shocked... I don't want to be bothered by marketing!

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I went onto a insurance comparison website yesterday as I need to renew mine.

The moment I hit the submit button my phone started ringing. It hasn't stopped since. At one point the mobile and landline were ringing simultaneously.

I'm sure I made some kind of error and requested to be harassed into an early grave, but still... I won't be using any of those sites again.

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In total, Pharmacy 2U advertised over 100,000 customer details for sale, with the online database detailing what conditions people were suffering. Specific breakdowns of types of customer were offered for sale for £130 per 1,000 records, representing a massive breach of privacy.

http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2431162/poisonous-online-pharmacy-pharmacy2u-fined-by-ico-for-illegally-selling-nhs-patient-data

I'm pretty shocked... I don't want to be bothered by marketing!

The fine was far, far to small. Barely £1.30 for betraying each persons medical data. Should have been a thousand times higher.

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I became aware of the Care.Data scheme a couple of years ago. Centralised database of 'anonymised' :D data, accessible by health professionals and researchers. A safe houses! No, this is a prime example of what it is about, profiting from the asset stripping of individuals.

Like we can have any confidence in Govt IT programmes.

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The official ICO statement is clearer on this: medical data wasn't disclosed.

What happened, was that the pharmacy offered a list of names and addresses available for sale, which could be pre-filtered according to age, sex and whether recent purchases had been made.

The ruling was that although the customers had given consent for their personal details to be passed on for marketing purposes, that as a pharmacy, the business should have realised that allowing customer lists to be filtered in this way could allow vulnerable people to be targeted by scams (and indeed, this is exactly what happened, as a classic lottery scam company asked specifically for a list of people over 70).

The second part of the ruling was that even though consent was given, the consent was indicated by a pre-ticked box on the online form, which potentially compromised the validity of the consent; over and above the fact that the consent did not extend to having contact details passed on to known scammers.

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The official ICO statement is clearer on this: medical data wasn't disclosed.

The Computing article is rather misleading then; it says customer details were disclosed, and "In total, Pharmacy 2U advertised over 100,000 customer details for sale, with the online database detailing what conditions people were suffering." It doesn't make it clear that medical data was not, in the end, disclosed.

It looks like it was for sale though.

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This is the relevant quote from the ICO report:


The data sold via Alchemy consisted of names and addresses of NHS patients who had used the electronic prescription service, Pharmacy2U online patients and Pharmacy2U retail customers.

Similarly, at no point in the ICO report does it suggest that prescription details, medical details or purchase history was for sale. As far as I can tell, this has simply been made up by Computing.

The only suggestion of more personal data beyond names and addresses, was that the data could be pre-filtered, so that a purchaser could specifically request an age range, or a particular sex.

The other issue was that pharmacy2u knew perfectly well that they were selling names and addresses of elderly people to a scammer; because they asked to see a copy of the mailshot, and after having received a copy specifically told Alchemy to make it look "less scammy" before sending it out.

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The other issue was that pharmacy2u knew perfectly well that they were selling names and addresses of elderly people to a scammer; because they asked to see a copy of the mailshot, and after having received a copy specifically told Alchemy to make it look "less scammy" before sending it out.

That makes pharmacy2u's response look rather trite. They seem to pretend that they innocently made some technical error of judgement; it's really a serious failure of ethics and a cynical breach of the law.

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I went onto a insurance comparison website yesterday as I need to renew mine.

The moment I hit the submit button my phone started ringing. It hasn't stopped since. At one point the mobile and landline were ringing simultaneously.

I'm sure I made some kind of error and requested to be harassed into an early grave, but still... I won't be using any of those sites again.

Never, ever, make an enquiry online for offices to let.

I'm still getting emails asking me how my search for office space is going. Years later.

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