Betting companies have been given access to a database containing the personal data of 28 million children.
The Learning Records Service, contains the names, ages, addresses, of children aged 14 and above in state schools, private schools and colleges across England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, an investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed that betting companies have been using the Learning Records Service database despite strict privacy rules stating that the database should be used only for educational purposes.
The Sunday Times, discovered that one of the country’s leading data intelligence companies, GB Group had been given access to the Learning Records Service for age and identity verification services it provides to clients, such as Betfair and 32Red.
“The data has been used as a fast and cheap way to verify the ages of young online customers who claim to be 18 or over and legally permitted to gamble. It is claimed one gambling firm boosted the numbers of young people passing its identity checks by 15% by using the database,” wrote The Sunday Times.
GP Group told the publication that it was able to check the dates of birth and addresses against the database, and stressed that it did not divulge in the data.
The Department for Education (DfE) said that access to the database was given to a London employment screening company called Trust Systems Software (UK), which trades under the name Trustopia. The company is currently being investigated.
Founder of Trustopia, Ronan Smith denies providing GB Group access to the database.
The DfE said that Trustopia “wrongly provided access to this data and broke their agreement with us. This was completely unacceptable and we have immediately stopped the firm’s access and ended our agreement with them. We will be taking the strongest possible action.”
After being confronted with the findings from the investigation, the DfE disabled the database and alerted the breach to the Information Commissioner’s Office. An investigation is underway.
According to a source close to Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, said: “He was very concerned to be informed of this data breach which is why he tasked the department to launch a thorough investigation.”
Anne Longford, the Children’s Commissioner for England commented: “I am very shocked to learn that data has been handed over in this way.”
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