Tuesday, 17th July 2012 at 11:27 am
The Fundraising Institute of Australia has warned that proposed changes to Australia’s Privacy Act will cause undue distress and confusion to the fundraising community, especially smaller charities.
The warning comes in an FIA submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee that is reviewing the proposed amendments to the Privacy Act.
The FIA says the major concern is around the term “prohibition” on direct marketing and opt-out requirements.
“Adequate privacy laws to protect donors' personal data are an essential component of charitable fundraising in this country. FIA basically supports the Privacy Amendment Bill under review believing that the proposed new Australian Privacy Principles (APP) achieve their stated aim of updating Australia's data protection regime,” the FIA submission says.
“We do, however, have major problems with two aspects of APP7. Specifically there is confusion around the prohibition on direct marketing and lack of clarity around the new requirement for opt-out in each direct marketing communication.
“FIA is also disappointed at the continuing uncertainty surrounding the Statutory Cause of Action for Serious Invasion of Privacy. Comment on this was sought in a discussion paper released late last year at a difficult time for the charitable sector because it coincided with a crucial period in the Not for Profit reform process.
“FIA asserts in the strongest possible terms that the statement, “Prohibition on direct marketing” which appears at the beginning of APP7 should be deleted as it is both unnecessary and unnecessarily confusing.
“Charitable fundraising depends on direct marketing techniques to raise the funds necessary to deliver services and provide succour to those in need.”
The FIA says that while it is advised there may be some technical legal reason for drafting APP7 this way, it flies in the face of common sense and will cause confusion and distress in the fundraising community, particularly among smaller charities.
Regarding an Opt-out requirement in each direct marketing communication the FIA says this is another example of uncertainty injected into the Australian Privacy Principles at the last minute when stakeholders thought such matters had been settled.
“Fundraisers use mail and telephony extensively for soliciting donations but are rapidly adopting email and digital channels. While there is no problem with providing opt-out details with mail, this is not the case with the new social media.
“FIA believes that there has not been sufficient consultation with this latest iteration of the APP7 and that it is not technology neutral. There is clearly a case for further amendment to ensure that the Principle will apply in all circumstances, with provisions for specific channels being worked out with the Privacy Commissioner in codes and/or guidelines to ensure technological neutrality.”
The FIA says that if the Bill becomes law in its current form, FIA anticipates considerable difficulty in advising members what they can and cannot do.