Betting companies were inappropriately provided access to information sourced from a government database containing the records of 28 million children, reports suggest. The UK’s Department for Education (DfE) is responsible for the database, which contains the details of minors aged 14 and above at schools — both state and private — as well as colleges across the United Kingdom.
The database is intended for training and educational use and the government requires users of the system that have a direct relationship with learners to make sure it is fully understood how their information may be used.
According to an investigation conducted by The Sunday Times, a partner company handed over access to information gleaned from the database, known as the Learning Records Service, without permission.
A third-party training provider, Trustopia, allegedly “broke an agreement” with the government and gave access to the Learning Records Service system to GB Group, of which gambling firm clientele were then able to use the data on offer for rapid online identity checks and for age verification purposes.
Gambling firms get data on 28 million children in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and use it to promote gambling. Minister orders urgent enquiry. Surely some parents will sue the Learning Records Centre. 12,000 orgs can use its data on every child pic.twitter.com/eOBMKBh6pk
— Paul Lewis (@paullewismoney) January 19, 2020
This is perhaps the largest government data breach and will have far-reaching consequences for many years to come as betting companies and intermediaries have gained access to schoolchildren\’s data which they hope to be able to monetise in order to attract future generations to gambling.
This is not just a security breach, but a breach of trust, where there is an expectation of fair, lawful and transparent uses of the data by everyone who has access to it – which in this case has not happened.
In all of this, the responsibility sits squarely with the Department on Education, which has collected vast amounts of children\’s data for nearly a decade with apparently little oversight.