The ruling by the Information Commissioner’s Office has sparked fierce, passionate debate and a lot of confusion across the charity sector. We have reviewed the detailed findings of the ICO and would like to clarify four areas where there is potential for unnecessary confusion:
Myth 1: Wealth-screening is illegal
The act of wealth screening is not illegal, rather it is the act of doing so without the individual’s knowledge that you are doing so and giving them the chance to opt-out (under the Data Protection Act 1998) or to opt-in (after 25 May 2018, when the General Data Protection Regulation comes into effect in the UK and across the EU).
Myth 2: Data appending is illegal
Again, the act of adding data to a record is not necessarily illegal, but there are conditions. The reason why the ICO objected to this activity is because:
- The data being appended were contact details;
- The charities then used those contact details to solicit money without any prior warning.
Had the charities contacted those individuals and first asked them if they could contact them using these new details, the individual would have had a chance to refuse or opt-out.
Myth 3: We can’t share our data with third parties
Charities can still work with third parties and should still ensure that a data contract exists with them – one that specifies that the third party will only use the data for the purpose you want to engage them for, that the data will be held securely and won’t be sold on.
Myth 4: Without consent, the charity won’t be able to take advantage of new forms of data processing
This may be true, to an extent, but there they may be able to use something called “data-anonymisation”:
Understanding the issues, the language for privacy policies, and more is a big topic. Graham-Pelton has experts in data, alumni relations, events, planning, and more. Don’t hesitate to contact us for help in planning and implementation.
– Christian Propper, Senior Consultant