In Brief

UK charities fined for breaching data laws

Oxfam and Cancer Research UK among 11 organisations found to have misused donor information

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Several leading charities have been fined for misusing the personal information of their donors.

Data watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) says 11 UK organisations breached data protection laws, including the Royal British Legion, Oxfam, Cancer Research UK and the International Fund for Animal Welfare.

Some were found guilty of trading information without permission, while other cases involved supporters being secretly screened and ranked according to their wealth.

"This information was used to target the wealthiest donors, in particular to persuade them to leave the charity a legacy in their will," says the Daily Telegraph.

The fines range from £6,000 to £18,000.

The ICO is reluctant to impose harsher penalties in order to limit the damage to the charities, although Elizabeth Denham, UK Information Commissioner, said: ""We acknowledge the role charities play in the fabric of British society, but charities must follow the law."

Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC says some might think fining charities for being "a bit too eager to solicit donations" is unfair.

"But make no mistake," he adds, "the kind of offences uncovered are seen by the regulator as very serious breaches of the Data Protection Act."

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