News Article

UK Government shows support for charities and not-for-profits in the new Data Protection Bill

The UK’s proposed new data protection reforms, the so-called: Data Protection and Digital Information (No. 2) Bill (Data Protection Bill), intends to make communicating with donors, members and subscribers much easier for charities and not-for-profits in the UK.

Under the current, restrictive e-Privacy regime (in the UK this is the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulation (PECR)), charities and not-for-profits do not benefit from the exemption known as “soft opt-in” when communicating with their members, donors or subscribers. As a reminder, the term “soft opt-in” describes the rule about commercial organisations sending electronic marketing communications to existing customers, using data they gathered when that customer bought or expressed interest in their products or services. There are certain criteria which need to be met to rely on this rule. Critically, the “soft opt-in” rule does not apply to non-commercial promotions. This has long garnered some criticism, as it hampers legitimate and critical fundraising and outreach activities required to support many charities’ humanitarian and aid efforts.

Fortunately, the Data Protection Bill seeks to address this issue by expanding the “soft-opt in” so that it permits organisations which have charitable, political or non-commercial objectives to send electronic marketing communications for the purposes of furthering their objective. Although the Data Protection Bill is not formally law in the UK, we are hopeful that these proposed amendments survive the parliamentary journey (with the next reading of the Data Protection Bill scheduled for 17 April 2023). It would, without doubt, represent a significant and welcome reform if the Data Protection Bill comes into force in its current form.

We are living in an unprecedented time as we are faced with the devastating Ukraine crisis, a challenging economic climate and the lasting effects of COVID pandemic. It is, therefore, important to FILE that non-commercial organizations across the UK and Europe can continue to maintain their critical fundraising and outreach activities required to support their humanitarian and aid efforts.

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