Information Commissioner Christopher Graham has jumped to the defence of the charity sector, following fresh reports that some organisations are abusing supporters’ personal data.
Speaking in the wake of the latest allegations that charities have shared or passed on dementia sufferer Samuel Rae’s details more than 200 times, Graham insisted that “there is a danger here of blackening a whole sector”.
He added: “Charities seem to be becoming the new dirty word, and that clearly isn’t fair.”
However, Graham did confirm that the ICO has launched an investigation to work out exactly what has happened, and if the law has been broken.
He explained: “The law expects you to bear in mind people’s interests and people’s expectations. If people say ‘I never gave you permission to do that’ and you respond ‘well, yes you did actually, because in 1994 you forgot to tick a box’, then that isn’t consent. That doesn’t give you the right to trade in people’s personal information years after the event.”
There are currently two other separate investigations into the charity sector: The Cabinet Office has briefed Sir Stuart Etherington to probe the regulation of charity fundraising, while there is also a Parliamentary Select Committee looking into current practice.
Graham said: “I think when all that work’s been done we’ll see if any changes to the law are necessary.” However, hinting that his powers are currently limited over the recent furore he added: “My job is to enforce the law as it stands.”
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