The Fundraising Preference Service has been branded “toothless”, after it was revealed that fewer than a quarter of the charities which were named and shamed last month for failing to comply with the scheme have accessed requests to stop contacting individuals.
According to the Fundraising Regulator, only 14 of the 59 charities have now acted upon the threat of being in breach of the Code of Fundraising Practice, as well as potentially the UK Data Protection Act 2018.
Last month, the Fundraising Regulator made a big play on the fact that all 59 charities had been reported to the Information Commissioner’s Office, however, the privacy regulator has already ruled out enforcement action against them.
In a statement, the ICO said it had written to the charities to remind them that they must act lawfully and responsibly in protecting people’s personal data, and in how they communicate with them.
The 14 newly compliant organisations include Lloyd’s Register Foundation, the Challenge, the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness and Edhi International Foundation UK. However, four other charities have now joined the list, bringing the new total to 49 charities.
Organisations which have signed up for FPS are automatically emailed and told to log in to the system; they then have 28 days to act on the request and stop contacting the individual.
However, the FPS was always going to be hard to police, even Christopher Graham [the previous Information Commissioner] was not keen, insisting it would be virtually impossible to enforce because it was not enshrined in UK or European Union law.
At the time he said: “I’m not in favour of the idea, which I think is simply a confusion. The Telephone Preference Service is something I can enforce under the Privacy & Electronic Communications Regulations, but I’m worried that the FPS is something I wouldn’t have any status to enforce, and it I think it might lead to greater confusion when we actually need clarity.”
According to official figures, in the year to the end of October 2018, just 3,847 people used the service, with 11,890 requests to stop communications from 988 charities; almost a quarter (23%) were made on behalf of someone else.
One industry source said: “What’s the point? The Fundraising Regulator might talk a good game but who is going to enforce the FPS? It would appear there is little appetite at the ICO – and, let’s face it, they’ve got enough on their plate. So, what are we left with, a toothless scheme that no-one really wanted in the first place.”
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