The Institute of Fundraising has said it has some “concerns about how the ICO is engaging with the sector”, particularly around the way its most recent investigation findings were made public.
Speaking to Civil Society News, Daniel Fluskey, head of policy at the IoF, said: “We do have concerns about how the ICO is engaging with the sector around these issues and the guidance and clarity that is being offered to ensure charities are able to get this right in the future.
“This is why we need straightforward and unambiguous guidelines so that donors and charities alike are completely aware of the legal requirements and so that all charities can be sure that they are going about their work lawfully. Statements that donors need to be informed and be given the right choices are not sufficient. Charities need more detail on the ICO’s view of what lawful practice looks like.”
Fluskey also said that the IoF has “repeatedly asked for clarity on this on behalf of the sector” and has asked for a meeting with the ICO to discuss these issues.
“We have written to the ICO asking for a meeting to discuss these issues. We will be continuing to work on behalf of charity fundraisers to get these answers as soon as we can.”
At the time of publication, the ICO has yet to confirm whether or not it will be meeting with the IoF.
RSPCA and BHF cases
Writing separately in a blog post, Fluskey said that the ICO’s handling of its recent investigation into RSPCA and the British Heart Foundation had effectively left fundraisers to “feel their way in the dark” in terms of what lawful practice looks like in the eyes of data protection watchdog.
He also criticised the ICO for not actually releasing the full reports from the investigation at the same time as it released its findings.
“Aside from the way that the ICO have chosen to talk about their adjudication, there are important issues to understand about how the decision was come to.
"Well, there would be if the ICO had actually released their full report detailing the investigation, identifying the legal problems and making absolutely clear what they believe the transgressions have been, and what others should do to avoid them.”