The Fundraising Regulator has admitted it will be powerless to fine charities which fail to sign up people to the Fundraising Preference Service, with only the Information Commissioner’s Office able to take action against those which fail to comply with suppression requests.
Despite months of uncertainty, the charity body has said the FPS will now launch in just over two weeks on July 7.
The move, which will pile even more pressure on the ICO at a time when GDPR is massively increasing its workload, was revealed by Fundraising Regulator executive Daisy Houghton, who said repeated contact from a charity would be treated as a section 11 breach of the Data Protection Act and could be followed up by the ICO.
It was also confirmed that there would be a 28-day timeframe for charities to respond to suppression requests, but the public would be warned that the timeframe may not be achievable for some charities, especially given the long lead times for direct mail campaigns.
Once the 28-day window has passed, if an individual has continued to hear from that charity, the FPS will issue a follow-up notification.
“A follow-up request will only come through if a member of the public has still had communications from you after 28 days. There is text on the public facing side of the website that says it may take some charities longer,” said Houghton. “Particularly if it’s a postal appeal, but 28 days is the minimum amount of time we can expect charities to action a suppression request.”
Even so, Houghton conceded that if a charity continued to repeatedly contact an individual who had suppressed it through the FPS and ignored its 28-day follow up request, the Fundraising Regulator itself would be powerless to issue that organisation with a fine.
Ironically, when plans for the FPS were first announced, former Information Commissioner Christopher Graham was highly critical, claiming the scheme would cause “greater confusion” rather than do any good.
One concession, however, is that charities will not be charged for the service; it will be funded by the regulator’s levy on fundraising spend and registration fees.
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