Information Commissioner's Office
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Help the path of true love run smoother: read online dating terms and conditions

The ICO is reminding consumers to read the terms and conditions on dating websites before signing up.

The message comes after a push from the regulator to ensure that the websites used by millions of people are following the Data Protection Act.

Simon Entwisle, ICO Director of Operations, said: “Clearly dating websites are going to need to take a lot of personal information from their customers. But it’s crucial they let those customers know how their information is going to be used.

“We’ve had people come to us and say ‘I thought my profile was going on one dating website, but it appeared on a different one’. They’re unhappy, but the company running the site point to terms and conditions that show the information would be used that way.

“The solution is clearer information for consumers. We’ve worked with the top dating websites to make their terms and conditions clearer, but now consumers need to make sure they read them.

“They say the course of true love never did run smooth, but this step might help it run that little bit smoother.”

The ICO wrote to four of the leading UK-based dating website providers: International Ltd, eHarmony UK Ltd, Cupid plc and Global Personals Ltd, as well as the Association of British Introduction Agencies (ABIA) trade body. The work received a positive response, with progress including:

Reviewing privacy policies and terms and conditions

Removing suggestions that the website has ‘perpetual’ and ‘irrevocable’ rights over personal data

Ensuring compliance with the law regarding cookies, displaying a link or information about cookies on home pages

The ICO will continue to work with the sector, including the newly-formed Online Dating Association trade body, to ensure continued compliance by the sector.


Notes to Editors

1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.

2. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.

3. The ICO is on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, and produces a monthly e-newsletter.

4. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:

  • Fairly and lawfully processed
  • Processed for limited purposes
  • Adequate, relevant and not excessive
  • Accurate and up to date
  • Not kept for longer than is necessary
  • Processed in line with your rights
  • Secure
  • Not transferred to other countries without adequate protection

5. If you need more information, please contact the ICO press office on 0303 123 9070.

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