Privacy and the Not for Profits – the House of Rep
Monday, 3rd July 2000 at 1:07 pm
A report by a Parliamentary Committee into the Federal Government’s move to extend privacy legislation to the private sector has some good news and some not so good news for the Not for Profits.
The House of Representatives Inquiry in the Privacy Amendment (private sector) Bill 2000 completed its hearings in June and tabled its report to Parliament last week.
The legislation aims to ensure consumers can confidently take maximum advantage of the information economy while allowing them to protect their privacy with minimum inconvenience.
The legislation also proposes exemptions for small businesses and political organisations, so where does this leave the Not for Profits?
Under the proposed new Bill, if a Not for Profit organisation with an annual turn-over of less than $3million dollars collects personal information for its own purposes and does not disclose it, the small business exemption is available to the organisation.
The Fundraising Institute of Australia made a submission to the Inquiry and gave evidence at a special hearing. The FIA recommended that the exemption proposal in the Bill be amended so that it applies to all organisations that participate in fundraising activities regardless of the organisations size. This amendment would be based on the tax deductible gift status that is conferred by the Australian Taxation Office on many charitable and Not for Profit organisations.
The FIA argued that without the amendment, many organisations could take advantage of the small business exemption, and that privacy protection enjoyed by individuals would be diluted if smaller charities were not required to comply with the same rules as larger charities.
As well the FIA warned that exemption of some fundraisers would cause confusion in the public perception of fundraising.
However, the Federal Privacy Commissioner, who also made a submission to the committee, told the inquiry that given the large databases that some Not for profits maintain, it would be appropriate that they are covered by the new Bill.
The Committee’s report says it has addressed the FIA’s concerns in it’s recommendation that those eligible for small business exemption be allowed to take up the privacy regime, therefore giving the Not for Profits the opportunity to demonstrate their commitment to privacy.
The FIA had recommended an ‘opt-out’ option where organisations would write to donors saying ‘we would like your continued support but if you don’t want us to contact you again please tick here’.
The ‘opt-in’ option says to donors ‘we would like your continued support and will contact you in the future’.
The Fundraising Institute’s National president, David Zerman says the Institute is totally committed to accountable, transparent and ethical fundraising.
He says the FIA will go ahead with setting up a fundraisers code of conduct based on the principles laid down by the Privacy Commissioner whatever happens to the legislation.