Information Commissioner will comply with Etherington review 'informed consent' recommendation

Consent: guidance on what this is to be produced
Consent: guidance on what this is to be produced

The Information Commissioner’s Office will comply with the recommendations in Sir Stuart Etherington’s fundraising review that it should produce new guidance for fundraisers on the issue of "informed consent" and about how long such consent remains valid.

In a statement issued on Wednesday in response to the review, the ICO said it would also issue guidance on its approach to regulatory action.

The statement came after Etherington’s review, also published on Wednesday, said that the ICO should produce specific guidance outlining its regulatory approach towards charities and fundraising, stating what constituted proper informed consent and how this related to specific fundraising practices.

The review said the ICO should clarify for how long such consent was valid, making specific reference to legacy databases, and that it should provide more information on its enforcement approach to wrongdoing by charities, including the types of sanctions they might be subject to.

The ICO said: "We will be producing further guidance looking at the issues of informed consent in relation to fundraising practices and the timescale of valid consent. The guidance will also give a clear indication of our approach to regulatory action."

The review said the ICO should be one of several parties with which the proposed new fundraising regulator should hold regular meetings in order to ensure regulatory cooperation on fundraising issues. The other organisations that should be present at these meetings, the review said, were the Charity Commission, the Office of the Scottish Regulator, the Charity Commission for Northern Ireland, the Direct Marketing Association, the Advertising Standards Authority, the consumer charity Which? and the Institute of Fundraising.

It noted that the IoF had until now communicated insufficiently with the ICO.

The ICO said: "Our investigations into the charity sector are continuing and we’d ask any member of the public who still has concerns to report them to us."

The watchdog launched investigations into allegations made in the Daily Mail newspaper that data-sharing among charities led to a man with dementia being tricked out of £35,000 by unscrupulous companies and earlier claims that charities were involved in the exploitation of loopholes in the Telephone Preference Service system.

Earlier this month, Mark Goldring, chief executive of Oxfam, one of the charities currently being investigated by the ICO for potentially breaching data and privacy laws, told MPs that the charity had been told by the ICO that its use of donors’ data had complied with the law, but that this might not have been what the public would have expected.

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