Sunday, February 12, 2006

Big Brother Tesco

In The Guardian on the 20th September last year, they ran as a short front-page item, headlined: 'Big Brother Tesco is watching us all.' It read as follows:

'Tesco, the supermarket group that attracts one in every £8 spent by the British public, has developed a database that tracks the spending habits and lifestyle of everyone in the country - not just those who sign up to its Clubcard loyalty scheme.

'Dunnhumby, a Tesco subsidiary, has built a database which takes in raw information from a wide variety of sources, such as the electoral roll and credit agencies. According to its marketing literature, the company has "details of every consumer in the UK at their home address across a range of demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle characteristics." '

So I wrote to them as follows:

Dear Sir/Ms: I understand from The Guardian that your company is holding personal details about me 'across a range of demographic, socio-economic and lifestyle characteristics.' I believe I am entitled, under the Data Protection Act, to enquire what information you are holding on me and to request a copy of same.'

I received the following response:

'I am in receipt of your request to access any personal data information held by dunnhumby. Dunnhumby is not a Data Controller, meaning that I am legally unable to reveal information to you that is held on behalf of our clients. You should contact directly any company that you believe to hold data about you.

I hope that you will find the following information useful:

In order to access information that may be held on the Tesco Clubcard database you should contact Mr Nick Eland at Tesco Stores PLC, New Tesco House, Delamare Rd, Cheshunt EN8 9SL.

General data sources that are held at dunnhumby and on which you may be present are sourced from two data owners, who can be contacted at:

Experian Ltd (Consumer Help Service), PO Box 8000, Nottingham, NG80 7WF
Acxiom Ltd, (attn Lynsey Conway) Park House, Station Road, Teddington TW11 9AD

Please note that all organisations will require satisfactory proof of identity and are entitled to charge a nominal fee for the access request.

Should you wish to register with the Mailing Preference Service in order to reduce the amount of direct mail that you receive, you can contact the Direct Marketing Association, DMA House, 70 Margaret St, London W1W 8SS.


Richard Topliss

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