British Red Cross has signed an undertaking committing the charity to best practice around fundraising calls.

Fundraising calls are covered by the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations, which set out rules around what permission people need to have given before organisations can call them to market their services.

The undertaking commits British Red Cross to following these rules, which the ICO regulates, but it also notes the charity’s pledge to go beyond that. The charity will only call potential donors if they have specifically opted in to receiving such calls in the previous two years.

The undertaking was signed after the ICO contacted British Red Cross as part of its investigation into a report in the Daily Mail that suggested a number of charities were ignoring marketing rules to compete for donations. The ICO found the British Red Cross had complied with the law, but offered advice around further good practice that could be implemented.

Andy Curry, ICO Group Enforcement Manager, said:

“Our enforcement work issuing fines and dragging people before the courts is always likely to grab more headlines, and helps us reduce the annoyance of nuisance calls. But a big part of our work is working with companies who want to get it right.

“British Red Cross is a good example of that. They’ve seen the benefits of not just following the law, but following best practice, and we’re pleased that we’ve been able to work with them on this.”



Notes to Editors

  1. The Information Commissioner’s Office upholds information rights in the public interest, promoting openness by public bodies and data privacy for individuals.
  1. The ICO has specific responsibilities set out in the Data Protection Act 1998, the Freedom of Information Act 2000, Environmental Information Regulations 2004 and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003.
  1. The ICO can take action to change the behaviour of organisations and individuals that collect, use and keep personal information. This includes criminal prosecution, non-criminal enforcement and audit. The ICO has the power to impose a monetary penalty on a data controller of up to £500,000.
  1. Anyone who processes personal information must comply with eight principles of the Data Protection Act, which make sure that personal information is:
  • fairly and lawfully processed;
  • processed for limited purposes;
  • adequate, relevant and not excessive;
  • accurate and up to date;
  • not kept for longer than is necessary;
  • processed in line with your rights;
  • secure; and
  • not transferred to other countries without adequate protection.
  1. The Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) sit alongside the Data Protection Act. They give people specific privacy rights in relation to electronic communications.

    There are specific rules on:
  • marketing calls, emails, texts and faxes;
  • cookies (and similar technologies);
  • keeping communications services secure; and
  • customer privacy as regards traffic and location data, itemised billing, line identification, and directory listings.

    We aim to help organisations comply with PECR and promote good practice by offering advice and guidance. We will take enforcement action against organisations that persistently ignore their obligations.
  1. To report a concern to the ICO telephone our helpline 0303 123 1113 or go to ico.org.uk/concerns/