Many charities handle significant amounts of data and information; about their beneficiaries, about their staff and about their supporters. New technology and the rapid growth of social media has resulted in an exponential growth in this data.
Information is a vital asset to many charities and managing it well is an obvious strategic aim, but it can also pose risks if it is not properly managed. The Information Commissioner has wide regulatory powers which recent experience shows will be used to fine charities on much the same basis as commercial operators where there are breaches of the rules.
More people are becoming aware of the way in which the data protection and freedom of information legislation can be used, creating an additional administrative burden for charities holding data, but also adding to the range of risks any charity will wish to add to its risk register.
We believe that helping our charity clients to understand the scope and extent of their legal and regulatory obligations in relation to the data and information they hold is an essential part of good information management. We offer training services to support our clients which focus on the practicalities of information management. We also offer an audit service which can identify key areas of risk.
Our extensive experience means that we can supply charities with a range of template policies and procedures to ensure that you deal with information on a compliant basis. For example, data subject access requests are often an area of difficulty, but can be better handled on a routine basis if the correct policies and procedures are in place and are being used by well trained staff.
We also work to support our clients where a project such as a merger or joint venture has an information angle. Early consideration of issues such as data security and export is important in order to ensure that they do not become obstacles at a later stage in a project.
We support our charities clients where things have gone wrong; we have a track record in managing problems which pose both significant reputational risk and (in terms of fines by the Information Commissioner) financial risk for a charity. Our aim is always to look at the problem as a whole so that while the focus is on information law, issues such as the trustees' serious incident reporting obligations and the best use of PR advice are factored in to the charity's response.
Further information regarding our data protection and information law expertise can be found in our commercial data protection area of the site.
The quality of service is strong, but always balanced with a practical viewpoint. Advice is therefore not excessively legalistic and can be implemented more easily than would be possible with a more technical approach.