UK charities fined after swapping and selling their donor lists
The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined eleven charities that breached the Data Protection Act by misusing donors’ personal data.
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 some traded personal details with other charities creating a large pool of donor data for sale.
The action follows penalties issued to two charities in December 2016.
The charities fined were:
- The International Fund for Animal Welfare- £18,000
- Cancer Support UK (formerly Cancer Recovery Foundation UK)- £16,000
- Cancer Research UK- £16,000
- The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association – £15,000
- Macmillan Cancer Support- £14,000
- The Royal British Legion- £12,000
- The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children- £12,000
- Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity- £11,000
- WWF-UK- £9,000
- Battersea Dogs’ and Cats’ Home- £9,000
- Oxfam- £6,000
A summary of how each charity breached the law can be found here.
Discretion exercised in reducing fines – this time
The Information Commissioner has exercised her discretion in significantly reducing the level of today’s fines, taking into account the risk of adding to any distress caused to donors by the charities’ actions. The same approach was taken to fines issued to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (£25,000) and British Heart Foundation (£18,000) in December.
Charities must follow the law
Information Commissioner Elizabeth Denham said:
“Millions of people will have been affected by these charities’ contravention of the law. They will be upset to learn the way their personal information has been analysed and shared by charities they trusted with their details and their donations.
“No charity wants to alienate their donors. And we acknowledge the role charities play in the fabric of British society. But charities must follow the law.”
“These fines draw a line under what has been a complex investigation into the way some charities have handled personal information. While we will continue to educate and support charities, we have been clear that what we now want, and expect, is for charities to follow the law.”