Eleven more charities fined by ICO in 'wealth screening' probe

07 April 2017

The ICO has fined a further eleven charities following an investigation that revealed widespread misuse of donors' personal data.

The ICO investigation, which took place between 2015 and 2017, revealed serious breaches of the Data Protection Act, which included charities: 

  1. hiring companies to investigate income, property values and lifestyles of potential donors so that they could be ranked based on wealth
  2. piecing together information about the donor that the donor did not provide, for example, using an old telephone number to find a new one
  3. sharing donor information with other charities without donor consent

 As part of its investigation, the ICO has already fined the British Heart Foundation and the RSPCA for similar practices (see here).  Eleven other charities have now also received fines: 

  • Battersea Dogs' and Cats' Home (£9,000)
  • Cancer Research UK (£16,000)
  • Cancer Support UK (formerly Cancer Recovery Foundation UK) (£16,000)
  • Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity (£11,000)
  • Macmillan Cancer Support (£14,000)
  • Oxfam (£6,000)
  • The Guide Dogs for the Blind Association (£15,000)
  • The International Fund for Animal Welfare (£18,000)
  • The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (£12,000)
  • The Royal British Legion (£12,000)
  • WWF-UK (£9,000)

 The Information Commissioner, Elizabeth Denham, reduced the fines significantly to avoid causing additional distress to donors. However, her message to the charities was unequivocal: "While we will continue to educate and support charities, we have been clear that what we now want, and expect, is for charities to follow the law.”

 The fines bring a close to the ICO's investigation into charities. For further information, see the ICO blog post.

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