The Department for Culture, Media and Sport has announced a consultation on the exemptions currently available for fees chargeable by the Information Commissioner’s Office (‘ICO’).
From 25 May 2018 the Data Protection (Charges and Information) Regulations 2018 (the ‘2018 Regulations’) require all UK based data controllers to pay an annual fee to the ICO, replacing the old ‘registration fee’. The relevant charge comes in three tiers depending on the size of the organisation, although charities registered in England & Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland only need to pay a flat rate of £40. Those organisations who paid the old ‘registration fee’ to the ICO do not need to pay the new fee immediately but only when the period for their most recent payment runs out.
The 2018 Regulations largely replicate the exemptions for the old registration fees, including by an exemption to ‘not-for-profit organisations’ which some charities may be able to benefit from. A qualifying not-for-profit organisation is one that:
a) applies any profits to its own charitable and social purposes and not to enrich others, and;
b) is only processing data for the purposes of:
establishing or maintaining membership or support for a body or association not established or conducted for profit,
or providing or administering activities for individuals who are members of the body or association or have regular contact with it
only holds information about individuals whose data is needed to process for this exempt purpose, and
the personal data processed is restricted to personal information that is necessary for this exempt purpose
The 2018 Regulations were passed following a ‘targeted consultation’ and it was noted in the Government’s explanatory memorandum to the Regulations that a further consultation would be held in respect of the applicable exemptions.
The government’s announcement of the consultation notes its obligation under the General Data Protection Regulations to properly fund the ICO as a supervisory authority, the implication perhaps being that a review of exemptions is necessary to deliver more funding to meet increased demand.
There is no indication that the ‘exceptional’ £40 fee for charities is under review. However charities and particularly other non-charitable organisations who currently benefit from the ‘not-for-profit’ exemption, or who could in the future, might wish to monitor the outcome of this consultation.