Thank you for your comments in the Factary blog over the last few weeks. Even the ones we disagree with.
Because your comments – Adrian, Charlotte, Elizabeth, Finbar, Gareth, Jay, Jeremy, Jon, Julie, Luke, Nicola, Oliver, Peter, Philip, Sarah, Tim, – show the size of the gap between two camps.
In one camp are the people who work with philanthropists in charities, universities, theatres and museums. These people know that in order to manage a relationship with a customer – in this case, a philanthropist – we need to do what the banks, the supermarkets, the accountants, lawyers, architects and many others do. We need to be able to access public domain information in order to understand our customer, and we know that we have a legitimate interest in doing so. Sometimes we are required to do this research – for example by our supervisors at the Charity Commission.
Sometimes, we need to do this research before we have met the person. Which is why we have a range of controls, including legal controls and codes of conduct that set limits on this type of research.
In the other camp are the people who believe that precisely this type of research is an intrusion into an individual’s privacy. That searching for a named individual in Companies House fundamentally affects the rights of that person.
This is out of our hands now. The Fundraising Regulator and the Information Commissioner are putting together guidance that – we hope – will resolve this difference.
So we are closing, for now, this thread of conversation. We are not going to take any more comments in this area, for now. The debate needs much more hallowed halls than Factary can offer – it should be taking place in Parliament, or at the NCVO, not in our blog.
We have a job to do – to provide ethically sourced public domain information for our many non-profit clients, and we’d better get back to that.