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Charities fined for Data Protection Act failings

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The Information Commissioner’s Office confirmed last week that it has fined eleven charities which have been found to have acted in breach of the Data Protection Act by misusing donors’ personal data.

The charities were investigated by the ICO as part of a wider operation sparked by reports in the media about repeated and significant pressure on supporters to contribute.  ICO investigations found many of the charities secretly screened millions of donors so they could target them for additional funds. Some charities traced and targeted new or lapsed donors by piecing together personal information obtained from other sources, and others traded personal details with other charities creating a large pool of donor data for sale.  The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, reminded charities that they must follow the law and no personal data should be analysed and shared in this manner.  

This is a reminder to all charities that Data Protection legislation has equal application across all organisations, whether commercial or not-for-profit – particularly pertinent bearing in mind the new General Data Protection Regulation which will come into force in the UK next spring; charities will need to be prepared for the new regulatory regime and implement the proper processes and procedures to ensure compliance. For further information on legal advice for your charity click here.