Necessity Still Breeds Ingenuity - Archive of SQUALL MAGAZINE 1992-2006

News and Other Busyness

Personal Details For Sale

Squall 13, Summer 1996, pg. 11.

A NEW DATABASE of social security claimants could be sold to advertisers for direct mail shots, the Government said in May.

Over the next eight years a data base of all benefit claimants, including details of their income and ages of their children, will be installed by a private company.

The Government is considering allowing the company to sell the information - including personal details - for marketing purposes.

A list of child benefit claimants alone is thought to be worth £700,000. Such a list would allow relevant industries to directly target mothers claiming benefit.

A list of incapacity benefit claimants could be used by drug companies and a list of unemployment benefit claimants by low-wage employers.

At the moment such a scheme would run into difficulties surrounding privacy laws. The Government has said there would be “safeguards” to such a scheme.

But John Wadham, director of Liberty, said: “The kind of benefits people claim goes to the heart of very personal issues like health.”