Fundraising Regulator refers 59 charities to ICO for breaching DPA

As many as 59 UK charities have been referred by the Fundraising Regulator to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for failing to respond to citizens' request to not contact them via phone calls, texts, direct mail and emails.

In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, people can use the Fundraising Preference Service to request fundraising organisations such as charities, museums, galleries, and higher education institutions not to send direct marketing communications via emails, telephone calls, addressed post and/or text messages.

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People can also use the service to control the nature and frequency of direct marketing communications sent out by such fundraising organisations. Once a citizen places a request on the Fundraising Preference Service, FPS will forward it to the mentioned fundraising organisation and direct it to honour the citizen's request within twenty-eight days.

If a fundraising organisation fails to comply with the citizen's request within 28 days, then the Fundraising Regulator will have the right to take action and refer the organisation to the relevant charity regulator and the Information Commissioner.

Earlier today, Fundraising Regulator announced that as many as 59 charities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland failed to honour citizens' requests lodged with FPS since the service was launched. Since the said charities did not cooperate with the regulator despite repeated reminders, the regulator has referred them to the Charity Commission and the ICO, while also informing the latter that the charities have breached the Data Protection Act 2018.

"Some charities may think they have valid reasons for not accessing the suppression requests. Despite this, they are still in breach of the code and possibly in breach of the Data Protection Act, because each request is an individual’s wish to stop receiving direct marketing," said Gerald Oppenheim, chief executive of the Fundraising Regulator.

"Charities that ignore the Fundraising Preference Service run the real risk of causing distress and offence to people who just don’t want to receive their marketing communications. The ICO has written to these charities to remind them they must act lawfully and responsibly in protecting people’s personal data and in how they communicate with them," said Stephen Eckersley, director of investigations at the ICO.

"Our advice for charities is clear: they must not contact people registered on the FPS and, where we see this happening, we will investigate and take enforcement action where necessary," he added.

According to the Fundraising Regulator, charities that have not honoured citizens' requests lodged with the FPS so far include City University London, Diabetes Research Association, Human Hands, Mercy Mission UK, Sail Aid UK, Aid for Cancer Research, The Royal Mint Museum, Child Safe Foundation, Refugee and Trust, and Lloyd's Register Foundation.

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