The Government has announced reforms to the Data Protection and Digital Information Bill, which may make supporter consent for charities simpler, opening up opportunities for charities to communicate with their supporters more easily, whilst still adhering to data processing rules.

The UK’s Data Protection and Digital Information Bill was created in July 2022, marking a significant step in the post-Brexit reform of the UK’s data protection regime. 

The Bill seeks to balance the Government’s ambitions of promoting responsible innovation and easing compliance burdens by introducing a simple, clear and business-friendly framework that will not be difficult or costly to implement – taking the best elements of GDPR and providing businesses with more flexibility about how they comply with the new data laws.

The Bill has been on hold since September last year, and has been revised following ‘a co-design process with business leaders and data experts’, including Which?, the DMA, Tech UK and the Information Commissioner’s Office.

On the 8th March the reformed Bill was introduced in Parliament by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT).  We expect a full detailed draft on the new legislation to follow shortly. 


What do the reforms mean for charities?

Charities may now be able to rely on the ‘soft opt-in’ rule.

Currently, the soft opt-in rule does not apply to non-commercial promotions, for example, charity fundraising or political campaigning.  The term “soft opt-in” describes the rule about commercial organisations sending electronic marketing communications (eg emails or texts) 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. The rule only applies to existing customers, it does not apply to prospective customers or new contacts (eg from bought-in data lists). Marketing communications with an existing customer must be in relation to similar goods and services. The existing customer must also be offered a simple means of opting out of receiving further communications. 

However, if enacted, clause 82(3) of the Bill would add a new subsection (3A) to PECR 22 to permit organisations which have charitable, political or non-commercial objectives to send electronic marketing communications for the purposes of furthering their objective. The following safeguards would apply:  


  • The recipient’s contact details must be obtained from the individual ‘in the course of’ that person expressing an interest or providing support for the objectives of the organisation  
  • The individual must be given a simple way of opting out of receiving communications, both at the point their data was initially collected and at each subsequent communication 


Need more help?

Our Privacy experts can keep you up to date on the latest privacy regulations, including how the proposed Bill progresses and how these changes may impact your organisation. Contact us for a free consultation. 

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