Investigators also found some matchmaking sites were buying the personal data of members of the public to artificially boost the number of people who appeared to be using their services. Internet dating firms fake dating profiles using the details of real people without their permission to create fake profiles designed to entice lonely customers into paying to find love. Investigators also found some matchmaking sites were buying the personal data of members of the public to artificially boost the number of people who appeared to be using their services, thereby helping the sites attract more customers. The details included those of Brad Pitt, Michael Caine and a member of the House of Lords.
The Information Commissioner’s Office has now pledged to look into the industry over concerns that it is breaching data protection law. It acted after BBC Panorama investigators bought the data of 10,000 people from a company called Usdate, which has a sales office in Florida. The profiles included photographs and lists of names, email addresses, dates of birth and sexual orientation. Some contact details were clearly fake, featuring pictures of stars such as movie stars Pitt and Caine. But others in the batch were real, including the email addresses of the life peer, academics and BBC staff.
All denied using a dating website. It’s appalling that people’s photographs are being used against a completely different set of personal details. What concerns me more than anything is the scale of this. It’s not just an odd incident, it seems to me to be a matter of course and routine.