GB Group has found itself embroiled in claims that UK betting companies have been given access to a database containing information on nearly 28 million children which has been used to boost the number of young people gambling online.
According to an investigation by The Sunday Times, the data breach relates to the Learning Record Service, a file that is designed to help schools and colleges verify a student’s academic records and their eligibility for additional funding.
The newspaper claims that GB Group signed a confidential contract through another company to access the database. It then used the data for age and ID verification services it provides to clients, including betting firms 32 Red and Betfair, to ensure punters are aged 18 years or over and are legally entitled to gamble.
However, GB Group insists that no data has been divulged to third parties; the system matches dates of birth and addresses for verification only.
The Department for Education (DfE) said the Government had provided access to the Learner Record Service to employment screening firm Trust Systems Software, which trades as Trustopia.
The DfE is now investigating whether Trustopia provided access to GB Group; which the firm strenuously denies. It told The Sunday Times that it “placed the highest possible premium” on the lawful use of data.
GB Group said: “We can confirm that we use the Learning Records Service dataset via a third party. We take claims of this nature very seriously and, depending on the results of our review, we will take appropriate action.”
In response to the claims, the DfE said it had disabled the database and reported itself to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
It will not be the first time GB Group has been investigated by the ICO. Back in November 2018, the company was among a number of data business – including Acxiom DLG, Experian, Equifax and Callcredit (now TransUnion) – who the ICO said it was probing over the use of data analytics in political campaigns.
At the time, the regulator said it would carry out audits of all the firms, but the results have never been disclosed.
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