MPs slam ICO and call for far tougher charity action

MPs 2Charities may already be up in arms over the new marketing restrictions but they simply do not go far enough, according to an investigation by MPs, which also slams the Information Commissioner’s Office for letting them get away with bad practice for so long. 
The Public Administration & Constitutional Affairs Committee report, published today, and due to be debated by Parliament this week, backed the Government’s acceptance of the Etherington review but maintains its proposals “should be further enhanced”.
It insists the new Fundraising Regulator should be made accountable to the Charity Commission, to ensure the new self-regulatory system works – or else. It is not a big fan of the Fundraising Preference Service either, saying that it would duplicate the function of the existing Telephone Preference Service.
An amendment to the Charities Bill, tabled by the chair of the committee Bernard Jenkin, would force the Commission to report annually to the Government on the effectiveness of fundraising regulation.
If charities do not get their houses in order, self-regulation should be scrapped. “It would be a sad and inexcusable failure of charities to govern their own behaviour, should statutory regulation become necessary,” the report says.
The report also lays into the Information Commissioner’s Office, insisting the ICO failed the public by not being proactive enough at regulating charities’ misuse of data in the past. Although it recognises the ICO is being more proactive now, this has come too late for many, it insists.
Jenkin said in a statement that charities’ trustees were either incompetent or “wilfully blind” to what was going on at their own organisations.
“This sorry episode has damaged the reputation of charities across the board, including those who have behaved properly, and hindered their ability to raise essential funds.
“This is the last chance for the trustees of charities, who allowed this happen, to put their house in order. Ultimately, the responsibility rests with them.”

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