Elsewhere online
October 21, 2015

British Data Chief Says Big Charities Ignored Law on Donor Information

The British government's data-protection watchdog said Tuesday that major nonprofits viewed themselves as "above the law" regarding restrictions on buying and selling donors' personal data, The Telegraph reports.

Testifying before a parliamentary committee, Information Commissioner Christopher Graham said big organizations sought to negotiate a "trade-off" with the data agency between "the privacy of individuals and the manifest needs of the charity and the fantastic work they were doing." Mr. Graham said he "had to explain, sometimes in blunt terms, [that] this is the law and you've got to stick to it."

The British government is planning new curbs on fundraising practices amid scandals over aggressive solicitations of elderly people and trading of donor lists among charities and commercial companies. Mr. Graham said financial penalties for misuse of donor data are insufficient and called on the government to grant his agency authority to seek jail time for those who sell or trade private data.