Following media attention and public outcry against the direct marketing practices of the charity sector, the UK Information Commissioners Office (ICO) has carried out an investigation into the direct marketing practices of a number of major charities.

This has resulted in a number of public undertakings being given of which the first two are by the British Red Cross and Age International.

These charities have agreed to implement an “opt-in” consent model for “live telephone marketing calls” by no later than spring 2017.

They have agreed that “opt-in” shall mean “consent given by a clear affirmative action establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of an individual’s agreement to personal data relating to them being processed in this way.”

Interestingly where opt-in consent has been lawfully obtained, the agreement with the ICO is that such consent will automatically expire two years after it has been given and in effect opt-in consent has to be renewed on a rolling two year basis.

As more charities enter into similar undertakings this will have a dramatic impact upon the direct marketing practices of charities but this is inevitable given the prior bad press and the forthcoming EU General Data Protection Regulation which will require a more “opt-in” approach to consent.