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Charities and data protection - the basics

Charities must ensure they handle supporters’ personal data correctly, or risk financial penalties and the loss of public trust, writes Bethan Walsh

26 May 2017

Following various media reports in 2015 about significant pressure being placed on supporters to contribute to charities, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) carried out investigations into the practices of several charities. These investigations were part of a wider operation by the ICO to tackle breaches of the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA 1998).

As a result, significant monetary fines were issued to a number of high-profile charities, including the British Heart Foundation (BHF), the RSPCA, Cancer Research UK, the NSPCC, and Oxfam. Collectively, these charities were fined £156,000 after the information commissioner exercised her discretion to greatly reduce the fines.

The ICO said that some of the charities had been fined because they had engaged in the screening of millions of donors so they could target them for further funds, while others had trace...

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