The Fundraising Regulator risks causing confusion if the Code of Fundraising Practice is not worded in the same way as guidance from the Information Commissioner’s Office on the General Data Protection Regulation, the Institute of Fundraising has warned.
The IoF makes the comments in its draft response to the consultation on the regulator’s proposed updates to the code, which has been revised to include the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, new data-protection laws due to come into force in May.
The IoF response, which is being issued to members for comment before the umbrella body submits its final version to the regulator by the consultation deadline of 8 December, warns that some differences between the language used in the two documents – for example, where they discuss how long data should be kept under the GDPR – could lead to them being interpreted differently.
"We note that at points throughout the proposed changes, the wording is not always consistent with GDPR text and ICO guidance," the response says.
It says that "while some of these may seem minor… the wording of the code should as far as possible mirror that of the ICO and GDPR throughout so as to avoid potential confusion".
The response adds: "Even slight wording differences can change meanings or emphasis."
It calls on the Fundraising Regulator to provide examples of how the new rules might function.
"We note that there will always be a tension between adoption of a principles-based approach to regulation such as GDPR and fundraisers wanting clarity over what those principles might mean in practice," the response says.
It says the regulator should consider explaining how it would treat and enforce these principles when adjudicating on GDPR issues, for example by providing lists of determining factors and illustrative case studies.
The IoF response reiterates the position taken by its head of policy and research Daniel Fluskey in a blog published last month in which he warned that the proposed updates to the code could represent a "fundamental shift in goalposts" for the Mailing Preference Service.
The MPS is a service set up by the Direct Marketing Association to limit unsolicited mailing. The new version of the code says organisations must not send direct marketing materials to people registered with the MPS unless they have notified the organisation specifically that they consent to receiving mail from them.
The existing version says simply that organisations have to check their databases against the MPS to ensure they are not contacting anyone who does not want to be.
The consultation will run until 8 December and can be found on the Fundraising Regulator’s website.
A spokeswoman for the Fundraising Regulator said: "As we are in the consultation process, we welcome the insight of the IoF, along with any charities, fundraisers and members of the public who wish to feedback on the proposed changes."