We were told our use of donor data was legal, but not what the public might expect, says Oxfam's Mark Goldring

The charity's chief executive tells a committee of MPs that the views of the Information Commissioner's Office prompted it to examine the permissions it had from donors

Mark Goldring
Mark Goldring

The Information Commissioner's Office told Oxfam that the charity's use of donors' data complied with the law but might not be what the public expected, according to Mark Goldring, the charity’s chief executive.

Goldring was one of four charity chief executives to be questioned yesterday by MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee in Westminster.

He said that Oxfam had recently had a meeting with the ICO at which it was told that the charity was using data in a way that was legally compliant but might not what the public would expect. Goldring said this had prompted the charity to examine the permissions it had from donors.

"The ICO went through all the data-related issues we have been talking about today and more, and we don't think the problem is the formality," he said, referring to the charity's adherence to the law.

In July, the ICO launched an investigation of whether Oxfam, the NSPCC, Macmillan Cancer Support and the British Red Cross had breached data and privacy laws by calling supporters who were registered with the Telephone Preference Service.

Its move came after an investigation by the Daily Mail newspaper.

A spokeswoman for the ICO would not confirm or deny Goldring's assertion that the charity's data practices were legally compliant, saying that the regulator's investigation was continuing. She said the ICO had met Oxfam to review its policies and procedures and the charity had provided the regulator with information.

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