Following a two year investigation the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has now fined some of Britain’s largest and best-regarded charities for illegal collection of information on their donors without their knowledge to establish their total wealth, the better to extract further donations. Details of fines for breaching the Data Protection Act follow.

  • ABC £25,000 – Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals RSPCA (December 2016)
  • ABC £18,000 – British Heart Foundation BHF (December 2016)
  • ABC £18,000 – International Fund for Animal Welfare IFAW (April 2017)
  •   C £16,000 – Cancer Support UK (Formerly Cancer Recovery Foundation UK) (April 2017)
  • AB  £16,000 – Cancer Research UK (April 2017)
  • AB  £15,000 – Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (April 2017)
  • AB  £15,000 – Macmillan Cancer Support (April 2017)
  • AB  £12,000 – Royal British Legion (April 2017)
  • AB  £12,000 – National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC (April 2017)
  • ABC £11,000 – Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity (April 2017)
  • ABC  £9,000 – WWF-UK (April 2017)
  • A    £9,000 – Battersea Dogs and Cats Home (April 2017)
  • A    £8,000 – Oxfam (April 2017)

Offences noted by the ICO were :-

  • A: Covertly finding out information about donors that donors didn’t provide, such as telephone numbers and/or email addresses, marked A above;
  • B: Covertly wealth-screening donors and ranking them according to their wealth, marked B above;
  • C: Covertly sharing donor data with other organisations, marked C above.

It would be a pity if donors to the above stopped donating as a result of the revelations since this would hurt the people and animals the charities were set up to help. Perhaps a more constructive way forward would be for the well-paid chief executives of the above to apologise to donors for the grubby behaviour of the organisations under their control, admit that they personally failed to set appropriate ethical standards, and publicly pay the ICO fines out of their own salaries, rather than out of their snooped on donor’s donations.

It could go a little way to restoring the lost trust.

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